A south London MP has said that some of his constituents are “taking to the streets” because of “the spate of burglaries and the lack of response from the police” as a result of government cuts to Metropolitan Police Service funding. Clive Efford, who has represented Eltham since 1997, said, “People are actually becoming self-confessed vigilantes out there in my constituency, because of the shortage of police.”
Speaking on the Sunday Politics London yesterday, Efford stressed that he was “not criticising the police” because they are struggling to provide a service due to “austerity” taking a heavy toll on MPS budgets.
His view was supported by Sophie Linden, Sadiq Khan’s deputy mayor for policing and crime, who also appeared on the programme. She said that the number of police officers in London has dropped below 30,000 and will fall to 26,800 by 2022, according to projection by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), which she heads.
Linden declined to specify the number of officers she thought would be adequate, but said that on a recent visit to New York, a city she described as being of a similar size to London with “similar complexities”, she had learned that the New York Police Department employs 36,000 officers.
She pointed out that Mayor Khan had increased his share of Londoners’ Council Tax – the mayoral precept – last year in order to increase resources for police and had also added some business rate income to policing. However, she argued that the government has by far the greatest responsibility for providing police funding – it currently provides 76 per cent of it – and much more power to increase it
There was some support for more government resources from Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell, who represents Romford. “I don’t think any London MP would say we are getting this right in terms of policing in London,” he told the programme. “I think we all agree, cross-party, that we need more police and we need more resources. I think they should get more resources personally. I think the government needs to prioritise policing in the capital far more than has happened.”
However, Rosindell also said the Mayor had a responsibility to be cutting down on “officials and bureaucrats in City Hall” in order to “channel all resources” towards “police on the beat”.