The cost of keeping London safe

Keeping London’s streets safe over the next four years will be a near-impossible task, according to a new report.

The London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee has published a number of recommendations to both the Mayor of London and the Government, which are anticipated to be difficult to implement with the current cuts to public sector spending.

The population of London is projected to increase by 100,000 per year and it is unlikely that there will be a decrease in the crime rate.

Gareth Bacon, Chairman of the London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee said: “When it comes to police officers themselves, the Met and MOPAC need to be realistic. As things stand, the Met cannot afford 32,000 police officers and needs to recognise that.”

However, the Met is continuing to face budget cuts £600million over the last four years and a further £443 million by 2020-21 and that the Met cannot afford the target of 32,000 officers on the beat.

It recommended that the government should reimburse the Met for extraordinary events, such as the London Bridge terror attack, and that there should be an increase in council tax in order to meet the policing targets.

Green Party Assembly Member (AM) Sian Berry expressed concern at the depth of the cuts.

She said: “Even in Notting Hill, the police station which is needed more than ever now, will be closed. Although a replacement front counter has been announced, the local community can rightly suspect this will only be temporary. The people around Grenfell Tower deserved better.”

The MOPAC budget shows a year on year reduction between 2016-2021 for Met HQ, specialist operations and the specialist crime and operations.

“This has been a tough year for keeping London safe. We have seen four terrorist attacks as well as the awful fire at Grenfell Tower. Amidst all this, the Met’s response and performance has been exemplary,” said Mr Bacon.

Territorial policing shows a reduction from £1,157.4 million in 2016-2017 to £1,134.6 million in 2017-2018 and thereafter the figure remains static at that level until 2021.

It seems difficult to see how the territorial policing target can be met when considering the corporate budget increase which is projected to rise from £157.5 million in 2016-2017 to £390 million by 2020-2021.

Although savings and efficiencies can be made through improved performance, a reduction in office costs and the sale of properties, savings cannot be made on the 1% pay agreement for police officers, pensions and increase in costs due to inflation.

In addition, the Home Office, which meets 70% of the Met budget, is reducing the General Policing Grant year on year from £1,882 million in 2017-2018 to £1,809 million by 2020-2021.

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