Home Office pours cold water on Mayor’s ‘true extent’ of impact of government cuts to policing
The Home Office has strongly rebutted Sadiq Khan’s claims that the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has been hit harder than any other part of the country.
The London mayor says new figures expose for the first time the “true extent” of the impact of government cuts to policing.
Setting a benchmark of 2010 when the Conservatives came back into power, City Hall shows the Metropolitan Police Service had 4.1 officers per 1,000 Londoners but that ratio has now dropped to 3.3 officers per 1,000 – the lowest point for 20 years.
Statistics also suggest that police spending per head in the capital has fallen faster in the MPS than in any other force – despite a time of rapid population growth in the capital.
While the London force has delivered net savings of £720 million over the last eight years, net revenue expenditure per head of population reduced from £423 in 2012/13 to £337 in 2016/17.
It is the largest reduction nationally at 20 per cent, compared to six per cent across the country.
Linking the funding cuts to rising violence and a “scourge” he is trying to tackle, Mr Khan argued: “The level of knife crime across our country, including London, is simply unacceptable.
“The figures released show the true scale of government cuts to police funding that have hit our city harder than anywhere else in the UK.
“And I make no apologies for relentlessly pushing the government to understand that cuts have consequences and that our police service desperately need more funding right now.”
But the Home Office was adamant, telling Police Professional: “There are more police officers for each Londoner than anywhere else in the country.”
Its ‘reality check’ cites London as having the most officers per head of population – a quarter of all police officers in England and Wales.
The MPS also has £240 million of reserves to draw from to cover unexpected costs and invest, for example in better technology.
And the force is also “benefiting” from a council tax precept income increase by almost £50 million in 2018/2019, following the Mayor’s decision to invoke the new-found flexibility provided by the Government.
And the Home Office points to the MPS taking advantage of an increase in counter-terrorism police funding – up by around £50 million to £757 million in 2018/19.
Its statement added: “Funding for the Metropolitan Police is increasing by £110 million this year compared to 2017/18, including the mayor’s contribution from business rates and the increase in precept income.
“The Metropolitan Police is receiving over £2.5 billion in direct resource funding this year, including precept.”
In 1998, the MPS boasted 26,094 officers (3.7 per cent officers per 1,000) when the population was seven million.
Three years later, it had fallen to 24,878 but rose consistently to peak when the Conservatives first came to power at 33,367 (4.1 per cent officers per 1,000). The population had risen to eight million.
In 2018, the police numbers have fallen back to 29,924 (3.3 per cent officers per 1,000) with a population of nearly nine million.
The MPS commissioner, Cressida Dick, has said numbers will rise above 30,000 as new intakes of recruits join.
The Mayor’s claims that numbers have fallen since 2012 are true, but they have not reduced anywhere near as much as the rest of the country.
In pure number terms, there were almost as many MPS officers in 2013 as there are now but other forces have seen their numbers slashed drastically. Since 2010, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and West Midlands Police (WMP) have lost over 20 per cent.
But the MPS figures have fallen by only ten per cent since 2010.
Mr Khan’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, accepted that the MPS has more officers than elsewhere when compared with its resident population and told London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee in 2017 this was because the number of people visiting the capital, either commuting from the rest of the country or as tourists, means the MPS needs much more resources.
Value for Money Profile figures from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) show the MPS still has 40 per cent more officers per head of population than its peers at GMP, WMP and West Yorkshire Police, in 2017/18.
Mr Khan is clear that with a huge amount of savings delivered by the MPS since 2010 and a further £325 million needed by 2021, Home secretary Sajid Javid’s pledge to prioritise funding in next year’s Spending Review is too late.
The mayor insists the Government must immediately halt planned cuts and instead properly invest in the police and public services if it is serious about getting a grip on violent crime.
Earlier this week he called together leaders from across London’s government to agree a joint approach to tackle the rise in violent and knife crime.
He believes government Ministers are failing to show leadership in response to the increase in violent and knife crime across the country, and says he is determined to do everything in his power to tackle the issue – pointing to £138 m of investment in the MPS in the last two years, which “helped put an additional 1,000 officers on the streets than would otherwise be affordable”.
The crime statistics show that in 2011 there were 155,428 offences of violence against the person in London, which dipped to 148,283 in 2013, and rose to 248,993 by 2017.