Mayor: Huge Government cuts lead to new local policing system
Sadiq Khan has assured Londoners that the Metropolitan Police will maximise the number of frontline neighbourhood officers despite major changes to the way local policing is delivered in the capital, which have been driven by big Government funding cuts.
The Mayor says that today’s decision to move forward with plans to organise London policing across 12 larger Basic Command Units, rather than 32 boroughs, is the only way to maintain the frontline services required by Londoners in the face of falling police numbers due to the cuts made by Ministers.
The change also has the potential to improve the way the police deal with serious complex crimes, such as safeguarding the most vulnerable Londoners, Sadiq said.
The new model of policing forced on the Met has been extensively tested in two ‘pathfinder’ areas of London since January 2017. This has allowed the Metropolitan Police to make changes to the Basic Command module and successfully address falls in response times.
Each of the new Basic Command Units will be led by a Chief Superintendent and will deliver the key local policing functions expected by Londoners. Police officers, buildings and resources will now be shared across borough boundaries. It will mean resources can be focused on safeguarding and neighbourhood policing, and that they are delivered effectively in the face of increasing financial pressures.
The Metropolitan Police has faced Government cuts of more than £700m since 2010. A further £325m of savings must be found by 2021. They expect to move from a strategic target of 32,000 officers to an average of 30,000 by April this year and to have to make further significant reductions in numbers by 2021.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “These changes are being made to ensure the Met is able to maintain the key services that Londoners require, despite the challenge of huge government spending cuts, which are driving down police numbers in London and across the country at a time when crime across England and Wales is rising in volume and complexity.
“It is a decision that has been driven by cuts from central Government to the Met’s budget, and the need to improve policing to meet the demands of London. But I want to reassure Londoners that the new units have been designed with their safety as the absolute priority. That is why they have been tested since January 2017 and they will only be taken forward in a measured way. The new units will be designed for every area of London in order to meet the needs of local people and tackle local priorities, while I will continue to press the government to deliver the funding needed to keep Londoners safe.”
Five London Boroughs have trialled the new Basic Command Unit system in two ‘pathfinder’ areas, in north and East London, since January 2017. Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge and Havering boroughs combined in one area, and Camden and Islington boroughs combined in the other.
By evaluating the pathfinder units the Metropolitan Police has been able to identify potential challenges and identify key lessons that will mean each unit is designed to meet local needs, and help enable the successful roll out of the units across the remainder of the capital over the next 12 months.
In both pathfinder areas the Met put in place a significant amount of work to address an initial fall in response time. As a result their performance in responding to the most urgent calls is now better than it was at the same time in 2016, before the pathfinder Basic Command Units were created. In the pathfinder areas the Met has also been able to show that the new model offers potential for improvements in safeguarding. By increasing police specialisation in these complex cases they are able to make sure the most vulnerable Londoners are better protected.
Notes to editors
- The next boroughs to come together in the Basic Command Unit will be Ealing, Hillingdon, and Hounslow; and Kingston, Merton, Richmond and Wandsworth.
The 12 Basic Command Units are:
* Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster,
* Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Wandsworth
* Bromley, Croydon, Sutton
* Bexley, Greenwich, Lewisham
* Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge
* Ealing, Hillingdon, Hounslow
* Lambeth, Southwark
* Enfield, Haringey
* Hackney, Tower Hamlets
* Camden, Islington
* Barnet, Brent, Harrow
* Newham, Waltham Forest