When the Comprehensive Spending Review was announced, I said that one of my real concerns was the reduction in police budgets. Every survey I have conducted since I was first selected as a candidate shows that crime is my constituents' number one concern. Whilst there is undoubtedly scope for making savings in the Metropolitan Police budget, a reduction in front line policing would be completely unacceptable.
I am therefore delighted to learn that in his draft budget published today Boris is proposing to invest an extra £42million in the Metropolitan Police. This will allow the Met to start recruiting again, increasing the number of full-time warranted police officers in London to 32,510, which means London will have more police at the end of his term of office than he inherited.
This additional investment will:
- put an additional 413 fully warranted police officers, not PCSOs, onto London's public transport;
- protect Safer Neighbourhood Teams by looking at how they are managed - for example having a few wards share a sergeant (personally I would like teams to be based on places, not wards ie a Shirley team that covers not just the ward of Shirley but parts of Ashburton and Heathfield wards - people would be clearer who their team is and the teams would be bigger allowing them to cover more of the day, particularly the crucial evening period);
- increase the number of police officers working in schools by 70 to a total of 253, helping to tackle youth crime;
- create a new pool of 120 officers to work in partnership with the boroughs to hit crime hotspots and problem areas; and
- recruit more full-time warranted police officers by reducing the number of PCSOs (many of whom may wish to become warranted officers).
And all this is being delivered while Council Tax is being frozen for the third year - the extra money is being found by switching funding from buildings, vehicles and equipment to frontline policing. Boris is making a real difference at City Hall.