Mayor delivers on neighbourhood policing pledge
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has successfully delivered on his promise to put the capital’s communities at the heart of his policing strategy, with at least two dedicated PCs and a dedicated Police Community Support Officer now in place in every London neighbourhood.
Sadiq’s plan for additional dedicated ward officers, who both know and are known by the community, was his first step in helping re-establish real neighbourhood policing after he took office in summer 2016.
529 new dedicated ward officers have been appointed and are now helping to police London neighbourhoods, with additional dedicated officers on patrol in some areas according to local need.
In a year in which London suffered four terrorist attacks, the Mayor believes these local officers are the eyes and ears of our police and security services, and have a crucial role in keeping our city safe.
Until last year most wards had just one dedicated PC and one dedicated PCSO, with two dedicated PCs in around 100 of the areas with the highest demand. Today’s announcement helps deliver a manifesto pledge and the Mayor’s commitment in his Police and Crime Plan, bringing the total number of dedicated officers working across London’s 629 wards - smaller sections of parliamentary constituencies - to 1258, with additional numbers who can work across their borough in areas of high demand. The new ward officers are drawn from existing non-dedicated neighbourhood roles, and ‘ring-fenced’ from being called away to other duties, other than in exceptional circumstances or a major emergency.
However, the Met continues to face unprecedented pressures, dealing with rising and more complex crime in the face of a funding crisis caused by Government cuts. Earlier this month, the Mayor warned that if the Government does not provide the necessary real terms funding to keep Londoners safe, the number of police officers across the capital could fall as low as 26,900 by 2021 - even lower than previous forecasts.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “My top priority as Mayor is keeping Londoners safe, and this starts with real neighbourhood policing. As promised, I’m putting communities at the heart of our policing strategy and I’m delighted that every London ward now has two dedicated PCs and a PCSO, who know the community and understand the local issues. They are our local eyes and ears, and are vital to keeping our communities safe and improving public trust and confidence in our police service.
“At a time when the Met is dealing with unprecedented pressures due to the Government’s huge funding cuts and the shift in the threat of terrorism, neighbourhood policing is more important than ever. I am doing everything I can to protect our frontline in London - but I have been clear that if the cuts continue, it’s expected that our police officer numbers will fall to a 19 year low of around 26,900, putting Londoners’ safety at risk.”
The Mayor has already done everything he can to protect police officer numbers, including taking the difficult decision to close more police station front counters to save £8 million a year – the equivalent of the cost of 140 police constables. Earlier this month, he announced proposals to increase his share of council tax from April 2018 by an average of 27p a week – the maximum amount allowed by the Government. The vast majority of this will go to the Metropolitan police.
The Metropolitan Police Service Commissioner, Cressida Dick, said: “Local policing is at the heart of the work that we do in the Met. Dedicated Ward Officers are known to, and part of, the communities they serve and strong links with our communities are vital to help us gather intelligence, detect crime and retain the confidence of Londoners. This increase in Dedicated Ward Officers, means those links can be further strengthened.”
Notes to editors
- The Mayor’s Police and Crime Plan can be read here: https://www.london.gov.uk/mopac-publications/police-and-crime-plan-2017-2021
- The Met has had to make more than £600 million of savings over recent years, and must find several hundreds of millions more of savings 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.
- The Mayor’s share of council tax is split into two – money that goes to the Metropolitan Police, known as the Policing Precept, and money that goes to fund other services, known as the non-Policing Precept. Earlier this month, the Government announced that they would not increase funding for the Metropolitan Police, but that the Mayor could increase his Policing Precept by a maximum of £12 a year before having to hold a council tax referendum.
- Reluctantly, as a result of Government cuts, the Mayor is inclined to increase his share of council tax that goes to the Police by the maximum amount that does not require a referendum. This is the equivalent of 23p a week - a 5.8 per cent Policing Precept increase.
- The Mayor also intends to increase his non-Policing Precept by 2.99 per cent, again the maximum permitted by the Government. This is the equivalent of £2.20 a year or just over 4p a week. As a result of the Government not giving the London Fire Brigade the funds Commissioner Dany Cotton said were needed in response to the lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire - the proceeds of this will be shared between the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and the London Fire Brigade.