Mayor warns half of London’s police station front counters could close
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has warned that continued Government cuts to the Metropolitan Police’s budget could mean up to half of London’s police station front counters may close.
The Met have had to make £600 million of savings since 2010 after the national policing budget was cut by 20 per cent* and the number of police front counters in London dropped from 136 in 2013 to 73 today as the Met sold off buildings to cut costs and raise money.
The Met needs to make a further £400 million of savings by 2021, as a result of demands placed upon them by the Government. To mitigate some of the impact, the Mayor took the difficult decision to increase the amount raised for policing through Council Tax, but he has made clear that if the Government – which provides the vast majority of the Met’s money - continues to underfund the Met, he will be forced to make the hard choice of closing more front counters in order maintain police officer numbers and keep Londoners safe from crime.
Speaking in front of the London Assembly Policing Plenary, Sadiq Khan said: “The huge Government cuts to the Metropolitan Police Service mean we simply have no choice but to take measures like consulting on closing half of the front counters at police stations in London.
“I have repeatedly warned about this, while lobbying the government for fair funding. It is the only way we can protect the number of front line police officers in the capital. As I set out in my Police and Crime Plan, published in March, I will soon be launching a consultation with Londoners, setting out the situation we face and helping to make sure that we provide Londoners with different ways to access the Met’s services whilst ensuring as much money as possible is available to go into front line policing.
“Events over the past few months have starkly highlighted how, now more than ever, the Police must receive the funding necessary to keep the capital safe. With £400 million worth of savings to be found by 2020/21 all parts of the Met are being looked at and we are aiming to reduce back office costs to 15 per cent. The police are becoming more efficient and doing their best to provide value for money. But we are in unprecedented times, with funding under serious pressure and demand continuing to increase both in volume and complexity. And the Government still haven't confirmed they will drop their police funding formula review, which could see London lose hundreds of millions more every year.
“My message is clear. We desperately need Government to give the Met the funding they need to keep us safe – these cuts are simply not sustainable.”
The cuts to the Met are compounded by the fact that Government has never fully funded the National and International Capital Cities (NICC) Grant. London spends £346m a year on activity linked to its position as a major global capital, such as policing events and protests. The Met is supposed to receive full compensation for this work through the NICC so that Londoners do not pay the cost. However, it currently only receives £174m a year – £172m short.
A further risk comes from a Government review of the formula it uses to allocate money to police forces in England and Wales, due to be published in 2017. An aborted review carried out by the Government in autumn 2015 indicated that the MPS stood to lose between £184m and £700m if funding was redistributed, which would have a significant impact on policing in London. The Government still has not confirmed whether it will proceed with this review.
Notes to editors
- The Met had to make £600 million of savings between 2010 and 2015 after the national policing budget was cut by 20 per cent during this period.