It is a week now since London Mayor Boris Johnson published his police review which confirmed that Croydon, the capital’s most populated borough, is to have all but one of its police stations closed, and this barely 18 months since the worst riots ever seen on our streets.
Official recommendations for an extra police station on London Road to deter crime and further outbreaks of civil disturbance? Bumbling Boris appears to have forgotten all about that.
London’s part-time mayor used his column in Her Majesty’s Daily Torygraph, for which he receives £250,000 a year (“Chicken feed,” according to the former Bullingdon Club member), to highlight his record at cutting crime:
“In London virtually every single crime type is down – everything including violent crime, car crime, vandalism, knife crime, youth violence, burglary, murder and robbery. It came down under my predecessor, and crime has fallen a further 13 per cent since I have been mayor,” Johnson wrote.
That, though, is a lie.
It is unclear what scope the sub-editors on the Telegraph have for correcting their columnist’s work. They certainly didn’t bother fact-checking another claim in the same Johnson column:
“London is unlike virtually any other part of the country in that we are now actively recruiting 4,500 more police in order to drive crime down further.”
That, too, is a lie.
Channel 4 News’s excellent Factcheck feature exposes the London Mayor’s falsehood by simply publishing an image from the Metropolitan Police’s own recruitment web page:
Of course, it is not the first time that Boris has made bold claims about police numbers and then failed to deliver. He promised 1,000 additional officers on the beat by 2012. Yet four years after Johnson took over at City Hall, there were fewer police officers in London than under Ken Livingstone.
C4N quotes a City Hall source (Boris doesn’t like answering questions directly, as his embarrassing interview with Eddie Mair showed so well) as claiming that the aim is to “strengthen the Metropolitan police service by recruiting 5,000 new constables over the next three years”.
But C4N clarifies this bit of number crunching. “Don’t get too excited, though. This doesn’t mean that if we have 32,000 officers now, we’ll have 37,000 in 2016. It means we’ll have the same number of police in three years time, as London’s population continues to grow.
“There won’t really be ‘more’ police. There’s no real ‘strengthening’, it’s just that officers who leave the force through natural wastage will be replaced by new recruits. So there won’t be a cut in police numbers in London, as there will be in almost every force in England and Wales. Or at least that’s the plan,” says C4N.
But this is a promise from a London Mayor who has so far failed to deliver on an earlier pledge, to maintain police officer strength at around 32,000 officers.
The latest figures supplied to the London Assembly’s police and crime committee show 30,843 officers at the end of last year. And the forecast for the end of this month is 30,437.
To underline the point, “This means that there are fewer officers now than there were when Boris took over from Ken Livingstone back in 2008 (31,398),” according to C4N.
With staff turnover, according to Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, at 5 per cent a year, recruiting 5,000 new officers over three years will only just keep numbers at around the same level.
Given that Johnson and his apologists, including Croydon councillor Simon Hoar, have justified the closure of 61 London police stations to be able to afford more police officers, the recruitment figures show that they are doing nothing of the sort. We will soon be without the police stations, and without any extra police.
That looks like a lose-lose for the people of London.
And if you consider that crime rates in the capital have been increasing since 2008, and not falling as Boris has falsely claimed, then the outlook for law-abiding residents who pay their Council Tax appears that much bleaker.
As London blogger Adam Bienkov noted, Boris’s claims that all forms have crime have fallen “just isn’t true”, with knife crime, youth violence, burglaries and robberies – none of which are unknown in Croydon – having all gone up.
Bienkov lays out clearly the annual figures here and says that overall, crime “has only come down by about 5 per cent, not by the 13 per cent claimed by the Mayor”.
But then, as the Mair/Mayor interview reminded us, Boris Johnson is someone who is prepared to lie to his party leader over an extra-marital affair. So conning the capital city on crime should be second nature for him.
- Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at email@example.com
- Boris Johnson accused: ‘you’re a nasty piece of work’ – video (guardian.co.uk)
- The reality of police cuts in London. (inspectorgadget.wordpress.com)