Mayor warns of new low in officer numbers unless the Ministers act now

11 December 2017
  • Sadiq: unless Ministers step in, officer numbers could fall as low as 26,900 by 2021, even lower than previous forecasts
  • Bleak new forecast assumes a 1.99 per cent increase in the council tax policing precept every year until 2021-22 – expected to be just over 8p per week each year for a band D household


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan today (Monday 11 December) today warned that police officer numbers in the capital will fall below the previous projections by 2021 – to a new low of 26,900 – unless the Government acts now to provide a necessary real-terms increase in police funding to keep Londoners safe.


The new low is based on the most detailed calculations to date by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime ahead of the Mayor’s 2018-19 budget. It assumes that Sadiq will increase the policing element of the Council Tax precept by 1.99 per cent – just over 8p per week for a band D household - each year, in accordance with the Government’s policy this year.


The Government’s council tax referendum thresholds were set at 2 per cent for this year for the Greater London Authority – meaning that the Mayor could not increase precepts above this figure without triggering a referendum of council tax payers.


Today, Sadiq called yet again on the Government – which controls 70 per cent of police funding - to take urgent action to stem the fall in police officers and the risk to public safety as pressure on London’s police service continues to rise.


London has suffered four terrorist attacks this year, with a dramatic shift in the threat of further attacks. London’s population is rising, as is reported crime both in the capital and across the country. The Met also faces additional pressure given the enormity of the Grenfell fire investigation.


Yet the Met police have had to make more than £600million of savings over recent years, and the latest calculations show a further £370million in savings need to be found by 2021-22. Government funding for counter-terror policing is being cut by more than seven per cent in real terms over the next three years.


Sadiq is doing everything he can to cut costs and provide additional funding, including the decision to close further police station front counters in order to save £8m a year – equivalent to the cost of 140 police constables. When he increased the policing element of council tax last year, he raised an additional £25.3m for the Met.


Once the Government announces the Police and Local Government Grant Settlements later this month, he will review the overall position on the Met’s budget including the council tax precept.


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Nothing is more important to me than keeping Londoners safe, yet the scale of the police funding crisis at a time of increasing pressure on our police service is putting our capital at serious risk. 

“This year we have suffered four devastating terrorist attacks. The population is increasing and recorded crime is up across the country including London. Yet, if the cuts continue, our police officer numbers are expected to fall to a 19 year low of around 26,900. 

“I am doing what I can to find additional funds to support and protect our policing frontline, and ensuring that the Met becomes more efficient. But 70 per cent of the police budget is controlled by the Government, and again I call on ministers to do the right thing and provide the funding we need to keep Londoners safe.”


The Mayor is doing everything he can to tackle the rise in crime, by restoring real neighbourhood policing and prioritising the most vulnerable Londoners, especially victims of violence and sexual offences. He has launched a tough and comprehensive knife crime strategy. Local priorities now target local need, and every single local neighbourhood ward will have at least two dedicated local ward officers by the end of this year.


In October, he released projections that police numbers in London would fall as dangerously low as 27,500 by 2021 without additional funding – the lowest level in 19 years. This would represent one police officer per 326 Londoners compared to one officer per 242 Londoners in 2010 - a fall of 26 per cent. Today’s projections are more up to date and paint an even bleaker picture.


Notes to editors

  • The new figures are set out in the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime draft budget submission paper, and are the most detailed calculations to date ahead of the 2018-19 budget.
  • Previous figures showed £400m of savings to find in the four years 2017-18 to 2020-21. As the Met submits its proposed budget from 1 April 2018, the new figures show £370m of savings to find in the four years 2018-19 to 2021-2022. 
  • Once the Government announces the Police and Local Government Grant Settlements later this month, the Mayor will review the overall position on the Met’s budget.
  • Last week, the Mayor welcomed early confirmation from the Government that the Home Office will reimburse the costs to the Met associated with the barbaric Westminster and London Bridge attacks, and the Met’s application will be submitted very soon.
  • The Mayor has also repeatedly called for full funding of the National and International Capital Cities (NICC) Grant, to reflect the true – and accepted – additional costs that come with policing the capital. The Met spends some £346m a year on this work, which includes diplomatic protection, and policing major events such as protests, concerts, football matches and state visits. The Home Office should reimburse Londoners for this work through the National and International Capital Cities (NICC) Grant, but currently underfunds London by around £172m a year. When the Home Office’s own expert panel reviewed the figures, it suggested the Met should receive £281m a year. So, on either calculation, the Met is significantly short-changed.

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