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Mayor of London warns of frontline police cuts

02 November 2017

THE MAYOR of London has warned that police numbers in London would fall as low as 27,500 by 2021 without additional funding.

Sadiq Khan revealed that if police numbers drop to that figure then it would be the lowest level in 19 years. This would represent one police officer per 326 Londoners compared to one officer per 242 Londoners in 2010 - a fall of 26 per cent.

New figures confirmed that recorded crime across the UK has been rising since 2014. In London, violent crime is increasing and there has been a shift in counter terror demand following four deadly attacks this year.

Yet police force budgets have been reduced in real terms by the Treasury since 2010, while inflation has risen to 2.9 per cent. The Chair of The National Police Chiefs' Council, Chief Constable Sara Thornton, has warned that Counter Terror funding for policing is being cut by more than seven per cent in real terms over the next three years.

In London, where the population has reached a record 8.6m and continues to rise, the police funding crisis has already led to the loss of almost 3,000 police community support officers, most of the capital’s police station front counters and 120 police buildings as the Mayor and the Met have sought to make £600m of savings while protecting frontline police officers.

A further £400m of savings is needed by 2021, the opportunities to generate more income or make substantial savings are diminishing as the force has been cut to the bone. Sadiq Khan has called on Ministers to put public safety first and properly fund the police, but they have done nothing. Khan says there is now no option but to reduce police officer numbers.

The projected police headcount represents a 26 per cent fall in officer numbers compared to London’s population since 2010. Mayor Khan warned that this will mean more pressure on the already overstretched teams who protect the most vulnerable Londoners, and reductions in proactive and preventative work to tackle serious, organised crime and terrorism. It will also limit the capacity to respond to large-scale incidents and maintain a heightened police presence for any length of time.

Mayor Khan said: “The alarming scale of the police funding crisis means that Londoners’ safety is being put at risk at a time when the population is rising, crime is rising and we face an unprecedented terrorist threat. The Government has the power to stop this.

“If the Chancellor does not use next month’s Budget to end the long-term cuts to policing and put public safety first, then we will have no choice but to reduce our frontline. The latest projections show that by 2021 police officer numbers in the capital will dip to a dangerous low – a 26 per cent fall in officers compared to the number of Londoners since 2010.

“Government cuts have already lost us thousands of PCSOs and staff, most of our police station front counters, and 120 police buildings. I have increased the council tax precept, and provided additional funding wherever I can to protect the number of frontline officers. If the Chancellor does not act now we risk our police officer numbers falling below 27,500 at a time when we need them most. This Budget will affect the safety of Londoners not just today, but potentially far into the future. It is up to the Chancellor to do the right thing and ensure the public is as protected as possible.”