Risks associated with cutting police budgets (Supplementary) [4]

Session date: 
October 17, 2012
Question By: 
Valerie Shawcross
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Valerie Shawcross CBE (AM): Thank you Chair. Mr Mayor, you are responsible for the police in this city but it seems to me --

Answer

Answer for Risks associated with cutting police budgets (Supplementary) [4]

Answer for Risks associated with cutting police budgets (Supplementary) [4]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I know. I have just explained why we are not going to get rid of borough commanders.

Valerie Shawcross CBE (AM): I do not think that you do know that you are responsible for the police in this city. People in local Safer Neighbourhoods Teams have got a far better idea of what is going on. Can I tell you that we have been briefed in Southwark by a borough commander about two station closures? Information is seeping out sideways in Lambeth about three closures of front counters and it was announced in September that South Norwood is to be closed. It is very clear that there is a lack of communication about the plans. All this information is seeping out. There is no clear borough policing model. People do not know what their policing service is going to look like, as clearly you do not either.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I am sorry, I have given you a very clear explanation of what it is going to be like.

Valerie Shawcross CBE (AM): There is a black hole opening up in front counter services in large areas of London --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Nonsense, no there is not.

Valerie Shawcross CBE (AM): -- including where I am, around Crystal Palace. People are not being told what the alternative provision might be. So, when are you going to be telling people what the plans are for policing and what is going to happen?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Sorry, I have just made it absolutely clear to Joanne [McCartney] that if there are proposals to close any building in the fabric of a police estate then that will be made clear in due course and with plenty of time for the proper consultation. Plus, number two, if after that consultation it is decided to go ahead with that reform, there will be an adequate substitute. Number three, we are not getting rid of borough commanders. Number four, we are keeping a Safer Neighbourhood Team in every ward. Number five, we are working incredibly hard to keep police numbers high in London overall, and number six, not unimportant, crime continues to fall and that is the acid test on which the police and we should be judged.

Valerie Shawcross CBE (AM): Mr Mayor, I put it to you that you have thrown the police service in London into a state of confusion and uncertainty.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Nonsense.

Valerie Shawcross CBE (AM): The only thing that everybody clearly knows about the police service in London at the moment is that you are intent on making massive cash cuts to the service. I wrote to you three weeks ago, asking for clear information about what the shape of services will be in my constituency, what you are going to do with the stations, what alternatives you have; you have not replied, you have not written to any of the MPs with clear proposals and yet we are getting these partial bits of briefings seeping out at a local level. It is time you were clear because this terrible lack of clear communication and clear planning is actually causing fear and confusion.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): No, what is happening is that people are being opportunistic, such as yourself --

Valerie Shawcross CBE (AM): When are you going to reply to my letter?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): People are opportunistically trying to whip up needless apprehension about what is going on. It is perfectly --

Valerie Shawcross CBE (AM): Mr Mayor, you are causing the needless apprehension by not coming clean with your plans. Let us have a proper, clear planning process and a clear consultation.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): As soon as we have a specific proposal to make, any change whatever to any part of the police estate, we will announce it and there will be a proper consultation. You can go around asking me to announce things in advance or prematurely. I am not going to do that. The most important thing is to help the police who are doing a fantastic job and encourage them in what they are doing, which is bringing down crime and creating a greater sense of security in London. That is what I would urge you to do.

Valerie Shawcross CBE (AM): Already three counters have been closed in Lambeth so you cannot say that you are warning people about what is happening. Thank you. I will leave it there.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Whatever is happening in Lambeth we will make sure there is adequate provision.

Jennette Arnold OBE (Chair): Assembly Member Evans.