Cuts to Policing

MQT on 2015-03-25
Session date: 
March 25, 2015
Question By: 
Joanne McCartney
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Have cuts gone far enough?

Supplementary Questions: 


Answer for Cuts to Policing

Answer for Cuts to Policing

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  You are asking about cuts in policing.  Actually, the cuts are £500 million for the period 2013/14, 2015/16, are being exceeded by the MPS.  They are on target to do better than that.  Savings of £573 million they think they are going to deliver by the end of 2015/16 at the same time as bringing crime down very substantially.  I have mentioned the cuts of 20% in the neighbourhood crime types, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) seven crimes, and getting more police officers out there.  We are making progress there. 


Joanne McCartney AM:  Mr Mayor, I do not think you actually answered the question, which was: do you think the cuts to the MPS have gone far enough?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Clearly, there are further savings that will have to be achieved between now and 2020 ‑‑


Joanne McCartney AM:  Yes, £800 million.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ but we are confident that by a combination of further economies, further amalgamation of units and sharing of resources, we can make further considerable savings, although I have also made it clear that you cannot cut front-line policing too far.  Indeed, I would like to see investment in London policing of the kind that we have seen over the last few years.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  In your introduction this morning, you said that numbers were back up to the 32,000 mark, which we all welcome.  Throughout this mayoralty, as the Commissioner reminded us recently, he has been running about 2,000 under strength.  At election time, it is going to be back up.  The Commissioner gave an extremely important speech just a few days ago to the Royal Society of Arts, where he stated that in actual fact the MPS would have to get a lot smaller with fewer officers and he also in a subsequent interview said that he could not guarantee the future of police community support officers (PCSOs).  Have you had those discussions with him and what is your view on that?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Of course I saw Bernard’s [Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis] excellent speech.  What Sir Bernard is confident he can do is to continue to deliver high numbers of frontline police officers and continued falls in crime.  The issue is how we make the savings work.  Where are the savings going to come from?  Do we indeed have to find £800 million or can we argue for more funding for London?  That is the question. 


Joanne McCartney AM:  That is actually not quite what he said.  I am quoting from the press release now on the MPS website.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  That is what I am saying.


Joanne McCartney AM:  It is his own press release.  He states that we need radical transformation of policing but, in actual fact, his question is how we keep the public safe with less money and fewer officers.  He is quite clear.  He is stating there have to be fewer officers and he says after the election and has said that police community support officers he could not guarantee.  Is that your view as well, Mr Mayor?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  As I have said before - and you have heard me say this many times now - there is an important political consideration, which is the numbers of frontline officers.  Indeed, it is essential to keep that number high.  We have picked 32,000 or thereabouts.


Joanne McCartney AM:  We agree with you, Mr Mayor, on that.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  That is something that, as Members of the Assembly have pointed out before, is a pretty arbitrary figure but you might as well have a high figure.  Unless you do that, the risk is that the cuts will be made in frontline policing rather than elsewhere.  We want to intensify the concentration of the MPS on finding savings in other areas: on buildings, on backroom stuff, on waste and on duplication across the organisation.  This is a budget of £3.6 billion or so per year.  There are savings to be made.  It is absolutely reasonable that a public sector body should make savings, but my priority is to keep numbers high.  There may be some element of tension in that priority between us ‑‑


Joanne McCartney AM:  There is a lot of tension, Mr Mayor.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ as politicians and the police.  That is a creative and healthy tension insofar as ‑‑


Joanne McCartney AM:  The tension is clearly there, Mr Mayor, because the Commissioner is warning that he cannot hold numbers high.  You only have one year left to go, but the warning signs around policing, as I think we would all agree, are warning signs.  You have had the Commissioner saying we are going to have a small MPS and difficult choices have to be made.  He has, for example, raised the issue that the police in future may have to say no to missing persons enquiries.  He cannot go into the future of PCSOs in the future.  The Deputy Mayor [for Policing and Crime] has accused your own Government of penny-pinching on counterterrorism funding.  He says it is a scandal, the Government action with regards to that.  The Commissioner has warned about risks to public safety in the future.  It is not really a legacy that we want you to leave.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Joanne, these are all legitimate things that you would expect us, as believers and defenders of London policing, to be saying.  Clearly, it is axiomatic.  If you do not manage the police well, if you do not fund them properly, the risk is obviously that at some future stage there could be spikes in crime.  That is the problem.  As it happens, the police have been managing the very considerable budgets that they have very effectively to deliver substantial and continuing falls in crime, and actually the numbers in the neighbourhood teams have increased by 2,600 and the overall numbers of officers are up, as I said, at almost 32,000.  It is about results and it is about the attitude that you have.  Bernard [Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis] and his team have a can-do attitude.  They appreciate that times are tight, but they think they can continue to deliver better results. 


Joanne McCartney AM:  Thank you.