The future of the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
July 6, 2017
Question By: 
Unmesh Desai
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

If I can start with you, Mr Mayor, in your opening statement you said that you are passionate about making the case to central Government for London’s police to be fairly funded and I welcome that.  Indeed, you have said that on a number of occasions.  Can you update this Assembly and Londoners as to where we are in terms of ensuring that this message gets through to central Government, especially in the light of the recent terror attacks and the disastrous fire?

Answer

Answer for The future of the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for The future of the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am afraid all I have is bad news.  There is no confirmation from the Government that it is going to not proceed with a police funding formula change.  I will just remind you that the last time it put forward a police funding formula change, we lost between £184 million and £700 million.  Roughly speaking, £700 million is 12,000 officers.

 

There is no movement in relation to not proceeding with the further £400 million worth of cuts to the MPS’s budget, no movement in relation to funding us fully for us being a National and International Capital City, no movement in relation to lifting the public pay cap of 1% and then funding that, and no movement in relation to giving a real-terms increase in our funding, which is [linked to] inflation rather than a flat-cash budget as in the last Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).  That is the bad news.

 

The good news is that Londoners understand the pressures our police service is under.  The Deputy Commissioner was underselling how hard our police service - and that includes the BTP and the City of London - has been working over the last few months.

 

Can I just be frank?  With the amount they are stretched, it is not sustainable for them to work at the high levels going forward unless they are given some respite.  The best respite they can be given is additional resources from central Government.

 

Unmesh Desai AM:  Absolutely.  I totally agree, Mr Mayor.  Deputy Commissioner, if I can turn to you now just to carry on the argument about London’s police service being properly funded, the Chair of the Police Federation recently said that the police cannot cope with budget cuts and “policing has been cut to the bone”.  Similarly, Steve Finnigan, the outgoing Chief Constable of Lancashire, was quoted in the Guardian in very direct language:

 

“We are at a tipping point and we need to have an honest conversation. I do think people are less safe in this country now and I say that with a really heavy heart.”

 

Would you agree with his comments as far as London is concerned?  What would have caused Steve Finnigan and Mr White to make those comments?

 

Craig Mackey QPM (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service):  It is quite a different picture across the United Kingdom (UK).  You will be aware and I know colleagues who sit on the Budget Committee are well aware of this.  For those police forces exposed to central grant that get most of their funding through central grant, of which the MPS is one, any big movements in central grant have a disproportionate effect.  When you are sitting in the Home Office and you apply a central cut, it does not fall evenly across policing.  That is a real challenge.  We have some forces that really have had to make huge changes.

 

I am absolutely clear.  Cressida [Dick] has said this and I have said it on a number of occasions.  We are stretched at the moment, if you look at some of the things going on.  We have just been doing a bit of a look back to try to see why it feels so busy.  As many of you know, I came to London in 2011/12.  We have seen a 78% rise in sex crimes in the time I have been here.  That is all work that goes into the system.  Even if you say that the police are not very good at this and could be better, it is work going into the system in terms of what we do.

 

Over the last 10 years, we had a 72% rise in missing people, rising at 8% a year, year after year after year.  There were 41,000 high-risk missing young people in London last year.  If you talk to operational police officers, as I know a number of you do, they will say, “We are the only service that does anything in that space”.

 

Increasingly, services have become centralised on police.  We have spoken before at these committees about mental health and just some of the figures.  HMIC has stepped into this space to help.  We are dealing with 175 mental health incidents a day and so 300-odd police officers a day tied up on mental health.  That is putting huge stress and pressure in the system.

 

That is why we say there has to be a proper debate.  If you want more out of this system, you have to put some more into it.

 

Unmesh Desai AM:  Deputy Commissioner, it would be unfair to accuse the Mayor - would you agree - of exaggerating and lying over the state of cuts to the police force?

 

Craig Mackey QPM (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service):  It is not for me to say who exaggerates and you know me well enough to know that I stay well out of the politics of this.

Unmesh Desai AM:  The facts speak for themselves.  I am running out of time, Deputy Commissioner.  Just one final question to you.  There have been reports that President Trump [of the United States] may drop in and visit Britain at some point in the next fortnight.  Given the current pressures on policing and the financial and other demands on the service, is such a snap visit something the MPS is prepared for?

 

Craig Mackey QPM (Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service):  In the MPS, we police and keep this city safe and we are incredibly proud that we do that.  We have to stretch and dislocate the MPS sometimes to do it, but that is what we do.  Like you, I have seen some of the reporting.  I know no more than that.

 

Unmesh Desai AM:  I will leave it at that.  Thank you.