In the midst of what he called “huge financial challenges”, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has today announced a further £30million investment in policing to ensure that more than 1,000 Met officers will continue to patrol the streets of the capital for the next four years.
With Mayor Khan’s funding over the last three years, the Metropolitan Police has been able to recruit an additional 1,300 police officers to tackle crime.
Today’s announcement ring-fences funding from City Hall for the next four years for those additional officers, whose posts might have been at risk because of the impact of covid-19 on business rates income.
On top of this, the Mayor has proposed a further £8million of new Council Tax funding on additional violence prevention programmes.
To be delivered through London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), the new prevention investment will fund a range of projects to reduce violence, such as expanding GPS tagging of violent offenders after prison release and extending the funding for youth work services for young victims of violence seen in London’s trauma centres and A&Es.
In a statement from City Hall today, it was claimed that, “The additional funding for police officers and targeted prevention programmes to tackle violence is possible because of prudent planning and the higher levels of Council Tax receipts from local authorities than originally forecast.”
Mayor Khan’s additional 1,300 police officers came at a time when government cuts led to the Met dropping to below 30,000 officers for the first time in 15 years. After Tory-led governments have cut more than 21,000 police officers since 2010, in an admission of another failure, the government has now begun funding 20,000 new officers across the country.
City Hall says that violent crime had started to fall before the pandemic, and has continued to do so since the first coronavirus lockdown in March last year. Since 2016, Mayor Khan has diverted more than £1billion of Council Tax and business rates receipts to policing.
Policing in the capital – which includes a range of additional duties, such as state visits, anti-terrorism units and diplomatic protection that tend not to be required elsewhere in the country – remains underfunded by government by more than £160million per year.
“The government continues to refuse to fully refund the Met for the costs incurred in supporting the capital during the covid-19 pandemic,” the City Hall statement said, claiming that £21million of covid costs remain unfunded this financial year.
“Violent crime had been increasing across the country and in London since 2014, while serious youth violence had been going up since 2013,” Khan said today.
“We’ve worked hard to tackle violence in our city, and it started to fall well before the pandemic hit and has continued to do so. But I am not content or complacent, we still have a long way to go.
“If we are to see the long-term reductions in violence that we all want to see in our city, we must continue to tackle the underlying causes of crime, such as poverty, deprivation and lack of opportunities for young Londoners.
“I’m doing everything I can from City Hall to reduce violence, but it’s clear we still have huge financial challenges ahead because the government has implemented a new era of austerity on public services in London.
“Ministers must now match my commitment to tackling this issue and fully refund City Hall and the Met for all the lost income and money spent tackling the pandemic.”
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The maths seems rather odd. £30 million over four years represents £5,800 pa for each of those 1300 additional officer posts that were said to be at risk. I suspect the annual cost of a Police Constable, including on costs, must be at least £40,000 pa.
More Police resources can only be welcomed especially when effectively used. It would be nice to believe that violent crime could be reduced by tagging and some of the other pilots, maybe they will
But one point to think on. Short funding of the Police by £160million is quite a sum. London has as stated greater calls on its resource than other areas. However it also has greater means of generating revenues not available to other areas also.
The Mayor has the power to access those areas. Perhaps Mr Johnson chose to use it for other purposes than Policing as does Mr Khan? Those are Political decisions by Political Parties and not always as implied due to methods of funding. Was Mr Khan not aware of his funding on taking power? Mr Johnson was (and did, well not a lot either – but perhaps Mr Malthouse, Mr Greenhalgh and Ms Linden might disagree) Mr Livingstone had Mr Fletcher oops sorry – Ms Gavron as Deputy but hey poor old Simon did get put upon quite a bit and always without complaint.
Is it me or does anyone else here believe that any person going into a govt or political role must leave common sense at the door?
I realise that much of the crime that Mr Khan is allocating funds to, in the hope of reducing incident numbers, relates to what I will call ‘Street’ crime. That is knife and gun related crime, taking place on the street and, correct me if you think otherwise, but generally gang related and often caused by younger people (teenagers?) protecting what they believe to be, their turf. That is to say they believe they must defend the right to any criminal activity such as drug dealing and muggings in a specific area.
How does this come about?, one might ask. Well, it has been my belief for many years that children who want to be considered old enough to have responsibility for some of their free time, really only have the streets to ascertain their independence. These young people have nothing to do of any purpose or benefit, nor do they have any specific place to be. Thus, often, it is here where that pathway into street crime begins its journey.
I’m not saying that by funding places to hang out or providing constructive pathways through, what are to many, the adolescent years, will put an end to street crime. However, it is these adolescent years where the roots of the adult begin to grow.
Have we not learned during the lockdown situation we are in, that too much of having nothing to do and not really having anywhere to go, is not a good thing? We are all in need of being connected and having some kind of purpose in our lives, hence the current campaign, Mental Health Matters. Why should that need be age related. Not many young people want to spend their free time in the company of their parents but until an alternative is given, the streets are the only other place to be.
It seems to me that much of the funding going on dealing with street crime, is much like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Prevention is better than cure is a common enough saying and is one that springs to my mind here.
Khan needs to lose the language of “prudent planning” and “financial challenges” and say outright that his Mayoralty (and local government generally) is hamstrung by the Tory Government’s funding cuts and policy of austerity.