Londoners are more likely to hold the UK government responsible for recent reduced funding for the Metropolitan Police and for levels of violent crime in their city than they are City Hall, according to new opinion poll findings provided exclusively to On London.
Results from a survey conducted on Thursday and Friday by Redfield & Wilton Strategies indicate that 46 per cent of Londoners regard “recent reductions in the number of police officers in London in addition to closures of police stations” to be “primarily the result” of decisions by the UK government rather than London government, compared with 28 per cent who think the opposite.
And asked who in their opinion is “most to blame for the level of violent crime in London”, 28 per cent said the UK government while 20 per cent said London government, with the largest proportion, 30 per cent, saying the Met is most to blame. Nine per cent answered “other” to the question and 13 per cent said they didn’t know.
The poll results suggest that sustained attempts by the Conservative candidate for London Mayor, Shaun Bailey, to persuade London voters that violent crime levels and police station closures in recent years are the fault of Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan are having limited impact and that Khan’s repeatedly pointing his finger at the Tory national government is having the desired effect.
Respondents’ views on those two particular issues are in line with their answers in another part of the poll, in which they were asked if they thought the most “power and responsibility” over London policing currently lies with the Prime Minister and Westminster or with the London Mayor and London Assembly. Forty-seven per cent said the former compared with 36 per cent the latter, while 17 per cent said they didn’t know.
A breakdown of the figures showed variations of opinion according to preference for different political parties. Conservative supporters were evenly divided over where they placed responsibility for reduced police resources – officer numbers and police stations – with 40 per cent of them blaming decisions by the UK government and the same percentage blaming London government for such decisions. By contrast, 45 per cent of Labour supporters polled thought the UK government culpable and only 27 per cent thought London government.
Regarding violent crime levels, 29 per cent of Conservatives said the Met are most to blame for them, 28 per cent said London government and 18 per cent said the UK government. Among Labour supporters, 33 per cent put most blame on the Met, 32 per cent put it the UK government and 18 per cent on London government.
The closure and sale of police stations and other Met-owned property in order to replenish policing budgets reduced by cuts in government funding after 2010 began under the mayoralty of Boris Johnson and has continued under Khan. The Met’s grant from the government fell by 29 per cent between 2010/11 and 2018/19.
Met officer numerical strength went back above 32,000 last year – the first time it has been at that figure since 2012. Khan has raised his share of Council Tax during his first term to replenish the policing budget, and additional recent money from national government has been made available in the last two years.
Updated 18 April 2021. Further findings from the Redfield & Wilton London polling coming soon. On London’s review of crime and policing during Sadiq Khan’s first term is HERE.
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