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Mayor warns of police funding gap risks

05 December 2018

THE MAYOR of London, Sadiq Khan, has issued a stark warning that police officer numbers in the capital could plummet to 26,800 – the lowest number in 16 years - unless the government provides urgently needed funding.

Sadiq set out the reality of austerity measures that will continue to bite unless the government acts now and reverses future savings enforced on the Met. It comes as the Mayor is due to meet the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, on Tuesday, to discuss the policing funding settlement expected soon. Sadiq will be pushing for a reversal of the damaging real terms cuts to policing, with the Met having already made massive savings of £850 million since 2010, resulting in officer numbers dropping to below 30,000 for the first time in more than a decade.

Based on updated and detailed calculations compiled by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime ahead of the Mayor’s next budget, the Met is now required by Ministers to make a further £335 million of savings by 2022. This figure is £10m more than previous forecasts, further widening the policing funding gap, and could result in officer numbers falling to 26,800 – the lowest number since 2002. In that year, London’s population was just over seven million, compared to nine million today. On top of this, London also has more than a million workers, visitors and tourists each day and has additional requirements as a capital city.

The budget forecast includes a government change in police pensions, which further compound the pressure placed on policing. These changes will require the Met to meet an increase in its annual pension bill of £104m from 2020, equivalent to more than 1,700 officers.

These figures are based on the assumption that the Mayor will increase the policing element of the council tax precept by 5.1 per cent, or £12 per household, raising an additional £49m (assuming the government give the Mayor the full flexibility to raise this) equivalent to 800 police officers. Since becoming Mayor in 2016, Sadiq has consistently pushed these powers to their limit and will have provided an additional £185m through council tax and business rates and invested in the Metropolitan Police.

But Sadiq is clear that the government – which provides 76 per cent of police funding in the capital – must take urgent action now to prevent officer numbers falling to historic low levels, particularly as it is now widely accepted that there is a link between a rise in violent crime and police resources.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said, “The causes of violent crime are extremely complex, but there is no doubt it has been made far worse by huge government cuts to the police and youth services.

“Even the Home Secretary has finally admitted that the Met won’t be able to tackle violent crime without more funding from the government.

“Now we urgently need to see action to avoid officer numbers falling even further.

“Government cuts have led to London losing 3,000 police officers and more than 3,000 PCSOs and 5,000 police staff and I’m genuinely concerned about how we keep Londoners safe with officer numbers as low as 26,800.

“Ministers need to reverse the £1bn savings forced on the Met and reverse their cuts on youth services and other preventative services so that we can keep our city safe.”