Crime in London (Supplementary) [2]

Session date: 
July 16, 2003
Question By: 
Graham Tope
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Are you aware that one of the reasons why the very welcome increase in the number of police officers are not actually being seen on the streets, particularly in Outer London boroughs, is because of the very high numbers that are still be abstracted for anti?terrorism and other duties in Central London? To give you an instance in my own borough, the average daily abstraction " the number of officers taken each day for duties elsewhere " is higher than the total number of officers that Sutton will receive throughout your term of office. That does have a rather negative effect on what you and I wish to see happening.

Are you satisfied that we really still need such high numbers of police officers abstracted, especially given the very high number of police officers based permanently in, for instance, Westminster? Will you raise with the Commissioner when you next see him your concern that the high levels of ongoing abstractions are actually failing to give visible effect of the implementation of your policy?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Crime in London (Supplementary) [2]

Answer for Crime in London (Supplementary) [2]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

I made my views very clear in the immediate aftermath of September 11, when I discovered the huge diversion of resources of police officers to protecting the House of Commons " and the House of Lords I have to say " which I thought was excessive. I think there may have been, in retrospect, an overreaction but we did not know. We did not know anything much about Al?Qaeda; we did not know what involvement it might have in Britain, what cells it might have in Britain and in retrospect it was an overreaction. But if we had got it wrong and they had got through we would never have been forgiven.

Although we have not had a disaster in London yet, there has been a significant number of small cells arrested and detained and I doubt if it would have been possible to have that record of success if we had not been already dramatically increasing police resources. If we had not been already increasing police resources, there would have been an even greater diversion from the boroughs.

The good news, of course, is that the deal that is likely to be brokered between the MPA, the Metropolitan Police and myself on funding " the move up to 35,000 officers " is one in which we will see absolute guarantees that the new officers allocated to the boroughs will not be abstracted. We talk about six officers and police community support officers per ward; they will stay in those wards, they will get to know the area and they will pick up the intelligence.

I think we will start to see that very soon because it is certainly the intention of the Commission and myself, when we have talked about this, that this should not be something that is rolled out only in a few areas. We shall approach it on the basis of each borough gets its share and we will discuss with each borough " borough councils as well " what rollout of order of the wards in each borough.

It is not a question of Sutton being left until last when we have done everyone else. Sutton will be there at the start with everyone else and the local political leadership and people of Sutton will have a say in which wards get those extra police first. We will be guided by local opinion on that.