View from the street: Sadiq Khan is to blame for fall in police numbers. He should hold a referendum


- Credit: Archant

We are entering dangerous times in policing terms.

Warnings of the impact of cuts have become reality. Knife crime is up, 999 calls go unanswered, the 101 telephone crime reporting line has absurd waiting times (upwards of 45 mins for an answer) and crimes are being closed without being investigated if, in the police’s opinion, there is no evidence worth investigating.

The Met is putting a brave face on this but the increase in knife crime is a testament to the impact of the cuts.

The Met has stated openly that there are certain crimes that it will no longer investigate. What have we come to – the pride of British culture, its policing force, is on its knees.

And now, further cuts are about to wreck more havoc – a dictat from the mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s Office has this month ordered that one sergeant and one inspector must be cut from Camden borough’s numbers. The dictat also stipulates that the minimum strength of response teams (the 999 officers) who are on duty each day must be reduced.

You will recall that response teams are now required to investigate crimes they respond to and fit that around responding.

Soon after the merger of Camden and Islington police forces about a year ago, the system fell apart and the response teams struggled to respond to calls and to investigate crimes.

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I received panicked emails from members of the community who had dialled 999 to require immediate assistance and no one had turned up. That’s the first time in my 11 years of being involved with neighbourhood policing that this has happened.

Sadiq Khan is responsible for the police and these further reductions are happening on his watch. This is bonkers. Londoners are entitled, as a matter of their civic rights, to be protected – this is part of an unwritten contract between citizen and state, namely, “you pay your taxes and be a good citizen and we will protect you”. But that is not happening anymore. Sadiq Khan has broken that contract.

The mayor can hold a referendum of Londoners and ask if they want to pay more for their police.

While his hands may be tied by rules which limit how much money raised from council tax can be put in the Met’s coffers, it would make sense to go to his electorate and ask them if they want to pay more to avoid the cuts and its impact on safety in their communities.

He knows he has this power, but he will not use it.

Londoners are being failed by Sadiq Khan and the consequence is persistent and damaging cuts to policing and rising crime.

Perhaps the answer to a referendum would be a resounding “no” to further funds to the Met, but an informed choice would have been made. call on the mayor, Sadiq Khan, to stop these further cuts and to use his powers to keep Londoners safe – a task in which he is fundamentally failing at present.