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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