Mayor warns police numbers will fall to 19-year low without more cash

30 October 2017
  • Sadiq warns police officer numbers in London could drop below 27,500 by 2021 – the lowest total since 2002
  • That would be a 26 per cent fall in the number officers per head of population since 2010
  • Chancellor must provide real-terms increase to police funding in the Budget to avert crisis


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan today (Monday 30th October) launched his strongest warning to date on Government police cuts, as he called on the Chancellor to use next month’s Budget to end the funding crisis which is putting lives at risk at a time of rising crime, rising population and an unprecedented terror threat in the capital.


Sadiq Khan warned 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.


Last week new figures confirmed that recorded crime across the UK has been rising since 2014. In London, violent crime is increasing and there has been a shift in counter terror demand following four deadly attacks this year.


Yet police force budgets have been reduced in real terms by the Treasury since 2010, while inflation has risen to 2.9 per cent. The Chair of The National Police Chiefs' Council, Chief Constable Sara Thornton, has warned that Counter Terror funding for policing is being cut by more than seven per cent in real terms over the next three years.


In London, where the population has reached a record 8.6m and continues to rise, the police funding crisis has already led to the loss of almost 3,000 police community support officers, most of the capital’s police station front counters and 120 police buildings as the Mayor and the Met have sought to do everything possible to make £600m of savings while protecting frontline police officers.


A further £400m of savings is needed by 2021, the opportunities to generate more income or make substantial savings are diminishing as the force has been cut to the bone. Sadiq Khan has repeatedly called on Ministers to put public safety first and properly fund the police, but they have done nothing. There is now no option but to reduce police officer numbers.


Today the Mayor spelled out the situation in the bleakest terms yet – according to the most recent projections, the number of police officer numbers in London risks falling below 27,500 by 2021, the lowest level since 2002. The projected figure represents a 26 per cent fall in officer numbers compared to London’s population since 2010.


This will mean more pressure on the already overstretched teams who protect the most vulnerable Londoners, and reductions in proactive and preventative work to tackle serious, organised crime and terrorism. It will also limit the capacity to respond to large-scale incidents and maintain a heightened police presence for any length of time.


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The alarming scale of the police funding crisis means that Londoners’ safety is being put at risk at a time when the population is rising, crime is rising and we face an unprecedented terrorist threat. The Government has the power to stop this.


“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. 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.


“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. 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. This Budget will affect the safety of Londoners not just today, but potentially far into the future. It is up to the Chancellor to do the right thing and ensure the public is as protected as possible.”


The Mayor has repeatedly called on Ministers to increase police funding, ending years of real-terms cuts, to ensure the crisis is averted and the capital can be kept safe.


At the same time, he has done everything he can to provide additional funds and protect the frontline, including increasing the council tax precept by the maximum percentage possible. But the extra £11m it provides is just a fraction of what is needed.

Notes to editors

  • The cost to London policing of the two per cent pay rise for police officers is expected to be £13.7m. This is the cost of the additional non-consolidated one per cent bonus - the original one per cent pay cap is already budgeted for. After expected contributions from the Counter Terror grant and third parties, the final cost to the Met is estimated to be £10.7 million.
  • The Met’s general reserves represent only two per cent of its budget. These are retained to provide a buffer in the event of unexpected pressures. The Mayor does not believe it is wise to run these down by paying day-to-day costs such as police pay during such uncertain times.
  • The Met have had to find more than £600m of savings since 2010. A further £400m of savings are needed over the next four years.
  • In July, the Mayor laid bare his concerns in a letter to the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, calling for:
    • A significant real-terms increase in the Police Grant, so that the front line can be protected and the crime and safety challenges we face can be met
    • The 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
    • An announcement, now, that the Government has abandoned its funding formula review
  • The National and International Capital Cities grant (NICC) - the Met is significantly underfunded for work to police London as a major global capital and the seat of Government. 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.
  • Funding Formula review – the Home Office was expected to review the Funding Formula under which resources are allocated to forces across the country earlier this year. When this was last considered in autumn 2015, the Met stood to lose considerable funding. But the review was abandoned due to technical errors. Last month there were reports that the latest review would be dropped. These are yet to be confirmed.
  • In July, the Mayor was left no choice but to launch a consultation on draft proposals to further reduce the number of police station front counters. By the end of this process, London may have as few as 32 front counters left open to the public – only one per Borough. In 2008, there were 149.

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