Fewer Police As Met Budget Is Slashed

But local AM insists Mayor's cuts will not affect front line services

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The London Assembly Member for Hammersmith and Fulham has hit out at criticism of the Mayor's controversial plans to cut funding to the Metropolitan Police in the coming year.

The budget for the Met for 2010 – 2011 is being slashed by £16m – a reduction of 2.48% compared to the previous year, and London mayor Boris Johnson also plans to reduce the number of police officers by 455 over the next three years.

Critics have slammed the plans, saying they will result in fewer police out on the streets in all of London's boroughs. But the London Assembly Member for West Central, which includes Hammersmith & Fulham, insists that the cuts will not affect front line services:

“There is a lot of misinformation being spouted about the Mayor's budget,” said Kit Malthouse. “The truth is that Boris's budget for 2010/11 will deliver more police to front line services than are currently there by re-directing police officers from back office duties to front line policing. For example, I should not have thought the public will think it right that 403 trained officers work in the Met's Human Resources department. Or that a further 75 work in the Service's IT facility.

“Londoners want their police officers to police their city and so does Boris. That's why 900 civilian staff are being recruited to cover these back office roles thereby allowing 550 officers to be redirected to the front. The Met are also recruiting over 2600 extra special constables who will be on duty by 2012. These are all facts. No 'ifs' no 'buts'. Just facts,” Malthouse said.

Critics say the Mayor's move is the first significant cut in London’s police force in the past decade, and that it appears to contradict Boris Johnson's election campaign promise to prioritise crime fighting.

Writing in The Guardian on Thursday (February 11), former Mayor Ken Livingstone said: “Johnson's team repeatedly say the issue on police numbers is "quality not quantity". That itself indicates where they want to take us to. The emerging policy in London is not reallocation of existing police posts to the beat but cutting police officer posts altogether.

“We should adopt the principle that if there are existing police officer posts and they are doing work that could be done by civilians, those police posts should be redeployed to the front line. The brutality of the budget squeeze under Johnson makes this impossible.”

The Independent recently reported that around 2,000 police recruits who were taken on by the Met in January 2009 were told after their training that they would not be able to start their jobs until 2011 at the earliest due to budget cuts.

Dee Doocey, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly policing spokesperson said: “It is shocking and disgraceful that a time when gun crime has soared across London, the Mayor thinks he can sneak through serious cuts in police numbers.

“The Mayor’s budget says in black and white that by the time of the Olympics, there will be an overall fall in police numbers of 455 officers. However, this cut is only the start. The Mayor is also proposing to cut funding to the police next year by £16.4 million and to force each borough commander to find additional savings of five percent in their budgets. Unless the Mayor backs down, Londoners will soon see a reduction in police officers on our streets.”

11 February 2010