Police Budget

MQT on 2017-12-14
Session date: 
December 14, 2017
Question By: 
Unmesh Desai
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Following the failure of the Chancellor to mention policing in England and Wales in his budget last month, you have been forced to drop your strategic target of 32,000 officers. What does this mean for the safety of Londoners?


Answer for Police Budget

Answer for Police Budget

Answered By: 
The Mayor


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you for your question.  It is truly astonishing that in a year when this country has faced repeated terror attacks and when crime is rising, the Chancellor provided no additional funding for policing in his budget.  The fact that it was not even mentioned speaks volumes about this Government’s attitude to policing.  Since 2010, London has lost 76 police stations and front counters and thousands of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and police staff as the MPS has sought to protect frontline officers from the brunt of the cuts.  In all, more than £600 million in savings were taken from the MPS during that time.


I am doing everything I can to protect the MPS’s budget and I have had to take tough decisions on further reducing the number of police stations and an increase in the police’s share of council tax.  However, with around £400 million in further savings needed by 2021 in order to balance the books and with the options for finding significant savings elsewhere in the MPS becoming even fewer, we are now sadly in a position where we must reduce the number of police officers in London.  The wage bill is the biggest single area of spending and to achieve the levels of savings required we can no longer avoid reducing it.  The budget for the coming year provides for, on average, 30,000 officers.  We will probably go below 30,000 police officers in the coming year.  By 2021, that number could be around 26,900.


There is no question that this will impact on public safety.  Put simply, the demand on policing is increasing while the supply of policing is decreasing.  The MPS now face very tough decisions about how they prioritise their declining resources to protect the public.  The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis has also warned that if officer numbers fall as far as we fear, and I quote:


“We will absolutely have to look at whether we can be quite as front-footed and proactive as I would like us to be and doing as much as I would like us to do on prevention.  We probably cannot.”


The Government has ignored those warnings and ultimately it is the public who will pay the price.


Unmesh Desai AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  Just to carry on the safety theme, to some extent you have already answered my supplementary question, but I will still put it to you.  The Commissioner was here yesterday at the meeting of the Police and Crime Committee and she said that if police numbers were to fall to 26,900 and a series of major incidents were to happen, it would mean calling on the help of other police forces “much sooner”, with “a greater impact on other crime investigations and other public safety issues” after an incident.  What do you make of all this and do you think that this is a sustainable position for the MPS to be in?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We are in a really tough position;  I cannot remember a time when we have been in a tougher position.  By the way, we have more than 200 police officers involved in the Grenfell Tower fire investigation.  Nationally, crime is going up.  As I said to you, at a time when crime is going up police numbers are going down.  We contribute, roughly speaking, 20% towards police funding via council tax.  Central Government contributes a significant amount and they are cutting that out.  Fewer police officers leads to people feeling less safe and also to them being less safe because, inevitably, it means they can do less of the prevention stuff that helps us feel safer.


Unmesh Desai AM:  I think it was last week that [the Rt Honourable] Amber Rudd [MP, Home Secretary] told us that future funding must be “based on evidence and not assertion”.  What evidence have you seen from her and from the Home Office that the £370 million of cuts that the MPS has to make over the next four years is a good idea and would not impinge upon the duty of you and the MPS to keep London safe?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I find the comments from Amber Rudd peculiar and some I find offensive.  Senior police officers do not make a habit of speaking publicly about their concerns in relation to policing, they are not the boy crying wolf.  They are concerned for a reason. 


Just talking about counterterrorism, the workload of the counterterrorism police has increased by more than 30% at a time when they have had a 7% cut in their funding.  These guys cannot blame the Mayor of London because nationally the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows recorded crime has increased by 14% in the year to June 2017.  Violence against the person nationally is up by 19%, robbery nationally by more than 25%, burglary nationally 20% and knife crime nationally 26%.  There is the evidence that crime is going up.  Anyone who follows evidence would assume we need more policing.  The Government is not providing the additional resources we need and I worry about safety, not just of my city and of Londoners but across the country too.


Unmesh Desai AM:  I could not agree more, Mr Mayor.  Thank you.