The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has said that London could lose as many as 8,000 police officers if planned Government cuts and changes to the police funding formula go ahead. This unprecedented intervention illustrates just how wrong the Home Secretary is to claim her cuts to the police force are not hitting the front line.
The Commissioner said that across the capital 8,000 police officers could be lost. If shared equally across all the Met’s frontline teams, including firearms and sexual offences specialists, borough police forces would lose about 25% of their officers, for Westminster that would mean 303 police officers lost.
If however specialist units were protected and the 8,000 officers were all lost from London boroughs Westminster would lose 534 police officers, the equivalent of 44% of the current local force. Coming alongside plans currently being discussed to axe all of London’s PCSOs the Commissioner’s comments show that another round of vicious cuts would devastate the police force.
The Commissioner went on to warn of a return to police forced to rely on funding levels not seen since the 1970s saying “I genuinely worry about the safety of London.” The Commissioner also raised questions about the Met’s ability to deal with a rerun of the 2011 London riots or a major terrorist attack if the cuts went ahead.
Since May 2010 the Met has already seen £600m slashed from its budget resulting in 721 fewer police officers and PCSOs in Westminster.
The Commissioner’s warning of a return to 1970s levels of funding show just how wrong the Home Secretary is to claim her cuts to the police force are not hitting the front line. Since 2010 Westminster has already lost 721 police officers and PCSOs with plans now afoot to scrap all the capital’s PCSOs entirely. Losing significantly more officers in Westminster, up to 8,000 in total across the whole capital, would devastate the police force.
With around £1bn of further cuts coming down the line there is a real danger we’ll see an undoing of all the progress made by London’s police force as the clock is turned back. There’s no doubt that cuts to neighbourhood policing are already having a massive impact, with violent crime in the capital already on the rise. With the Commissioner now warning about London’s ability to respond to major incidents and terrorist attacks there can be no doubt about the danger the Home Secretary’s cuts are putting the capital in.