Report of the Mayor (Supplementary) [11]

Session date: 
January 28, 2015
Question By: 
Joanne McCartney
Labour Group


Joanne McCartney AM:  Mr Mayor.  I think we both agree that policing is very stretched at the minute and that the future looks very difficult.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Policing is going very well in London.  That is how I would put it.  The MPS has delivered a remarkable success in continuing to bring crime down throughout the recession.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Of course, we had the Commissioner at our policing Plenary in December sitting alongside you and telling us that it was very difficult.  He has warned that, with future budget cuts, public safety could be at risk.  We have had this last week your Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime telling us that the Government was penny-pinching over counterterrorism money, that the police are extremely stretched in that regard at the minute and that it is a scandal the way the Government is holding back the money on that.  You have told us this morning that you want a stronger borough presence all round with regards to policing.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  That is what we are achieving.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Would you agree with me that if we could have extra officers in boroughs, it would be a good thing, particularly as you have managed to break even on your budgets so far only by holding police officer numbers lower than your target and by cutting 2,500 Police and Community Support Officers (PCSOs)?



Supplementary To: 


Answer for Report of the Mayor (Supplementary) [11]

Answer for Report of the Mayor (Supplementary) [11]

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No.  I will just give you the figures.  Actually, there are a record number of police constables in London now at 26,000.  There has never been so many before.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Mr Mayor, total police officer numbers have gone down.  Police constables are the lower ranks.  You have cut the middle and senior ranks.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  The total number of police officers in London in November was 32,160.  Excluding trainees, it was 31,434.  For ease of comparison - because I know that this is something that Jenny [Jones AM] has been asking about - in April 2008 there were 31,395.  Excluding trainees, there were 30,656.  Therefore, by any measure, the number of police in London has gone up under this mayoralty ‑‑


Joanne McCartney AM:  Mr Mayor, it has not.  For most of your mayoralty, officer numbers have been significantly lower and ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ in spite of all the budgetary difficulties that we have faced and in spite of the massive retrenchment that we have seen in police forces around the country.  That is a very considerable credit to the management of police resources and to the MPS itself.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Mr Mayor, you have also cut 2,500 PCSOs, which were the bedrock of our local Safer Neighbourhood Teams and we now have ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I think that most Londoners ‑‑


Joanne McCartney AM:  Can I finish?  We now have from your own MPS survey that nearly half of Londoners do not think the police provide a sufficient visible presence on our streets.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Actually, Joanne, the figures I have seen suggest to me that, as you know, we have asked for a 20% increase in police confidence ‑‑


Joanne McCartney AM:  Yes, you are going to miss that significantly.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ and confidence in London policing, admittedly off a low base, has been rising in the last few years and rising by comparison with many other forces ‑‑


Joanne McCartney AM:  You are talking about confidence.  I am talking about visibility.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ and confidence is very much driven by visibility.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Visibility is down, Mr Mayor.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  We have made it very clear that we want to see more police officers out there on the street.  That is what we have achieved.  The proof of it is in the overall crime tally which, as I say, continues to fall appreciably.  If you look at the percentage of the total workforce on the front line in the MPS from March 2008 to June 2014, it has increased from 57.3% to 69.5%.  That means we are doing that everybody wanted us to do.  We have taken account of the difficulty.  We have made the MPS less top-heavy and we have put more people out on the front line.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Mr Mayor, we want to see more police on our streets and our budget does that.


If I could move on to a couple of other issues, you have now taken over the commissioning of London’s victim services.  That is now your responsibility.  The MPS’s victim satisfaction levels are the second-lowest in the country.  I think we all agree that that needs to shift.  One of the things that we are suggesting and have suggested in previous budgets is the use of independent advocates.  MOPAC has just published some suggestions for increasing the number of independent domestic violence advocates, which we welcome, but we have for the last two or three years now suggested - and we are doing it again today - that we could take that model and pilot a project looking at independent advocates for victims with disabilities and with mental health issues.  Is that something you would consider?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am interested in all that type of work.  The role of advocates for victims is extremely important and victim support is extremely important because one of the problems we have in London is that although crime rates have been coming down, the sanction detection rates are not anything like good enough.  That is a function very largely of our difficulty in getting people to testify and deficiencies in the handling of witnesses and the support of victims.  All this type of work I fully support.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Will you agree to give that good consideration?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I appreciate what you are saying.  I will discuss it with Stephen Greenhalgh and we will see what we can do to emphasise that type of work.  I totally agree with you, but obviously the funding package overall, as you have rightly pointed out, is limited.


Joanne McCartney AM:  One of the things that we are suggesting again and that we have suggested in the past is that MOPAC could have a ‘victims champion’, someone whose job it is to champion and to give a good voice for victims across London and with all the agencies in London.  Is that something you would consider?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Let me think about that.


Joanne McCartney AM:  The other thing that I have been pressing you for over the last few months now is an anti-sexual harassment campaign.  We still do not know the detail of the TfL campaign, but from the detail I have had - which has been very little - it does not seem to go to the great extent that the New York model does and the very proactive campaign that it has put in place.  Before those final details come forward, would you actually look at that again and look at the New York model and check that we are doing all that we can?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes.  I am concerned about sexual harassment of all kinds.  Crime generally on public transport has been falling very sharply.  We have had fantastic success in driving off gang crime, violence on buses and violence on the Tube.  The Tube network is now the safest in Europe.


Are we seeing too much sexual harassment?  My answer is, yes, we are and we need to fight it.  Perhaps we should think of clearer public campaigns about London’s refusal to tolerate such harassment.  I am certainly willing to stand for that.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Mr Mayor, this is the fourth time I have asked you for this.  I am thankful for that, but TfL is developing a programme.  I have not seen the details but from what I have seen it does not seem to go far enough.  Please look at it before the final details are published.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I will look at it.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Thank you.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  These things are quite difficult to phrase and you have to get it right, but I will make sure we do it right.