Mayor of London Sadiq Khan urges chancellor to use budget to end Met Police cuts
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Chancellor Philip Hammond should use next month’s Budget to end policing cuts and put public safety first, the mayor of London has said.
With a rising population and an unprecedented terror threat in the capital, Sadiq Khan has warned London’s officer numbers could drop to a 19-year low without extra cash.
He said the “alarming scale” of a “police funding crisis” means that Londoners’ safety is being put at risk, something he believes the Government has the power to stop.
“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,” he said.
“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.
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“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.
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“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.”
The mayor’s warning comes after official figures revealed a 13pc increase in the number of offences recorded by police in the year to June.
More than £600 million of savings have already been made across the force since 2010 – with almost 3,000 PCSOs, station front counters and 120 police buildings lost.
A further £400 million of savings are needed by 2021, the mayor said.
Mr Khan also stressed how projections show the number of officers in London risks falling below 27,500 by 2021 - the lowest level since 2002.
The mayor said the figure represents a 26pc fall in officer numbers compared to London’s 2010 population and equates to one police officer per 326 Londoners, compared with one officer per 242 Londoners seven years ago.
This drop will mean more pressure on an already overstretched force, and reductions in proactive and preventative work to tackle serious, organised crime and terrorism, he said.
Mr Khan also warned a reduction in officer numbers will hinder the capacity to respond to large-scale incidents and maintain a heightened police presence for any length of time.
“This Budget will affect the safety of Londoners not just today, but potentially far into the future,” he added.
“It is up to the Chancellor to do the right thing and ensure the public is as protected as possible.”
Earlier this month Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said it may be inevitable the force shrinks in the face of budget cuts and efficiency savings.
She told the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee she would like “lots and lots of funding” and more police officers, explaining that the Met has been providing a service for over a year with less than 32,000 officers.
Ms Dick warned of “a real challenge going forward” given budget reductions and savings which need to be made over the next few years.