In May this year, Londoners will go to the polls once again. This time it will be to decide who the new mayor will be.
Today, Conservative GLA member for Havering and Redbridge, Keith Prince writes in the Havering Daily.
Despite the habit of blaming others for police cuts in London, Sadiq Khan has had the option to increase the number of officers throughout his mayoralty, and finally, he has admitted this. In a recent exchange at City Hall, the Mayor said, “I’d rather invest in future Daves and Stormzys than future victims of crime”.
He’s referring to the extra £7 million he has put into the culture budget since taking office. I do not know quite how spending £30,000 of this money on bicycle ballet will create another Stormzy, but that’s beside the point; £7 million is enough to pay for 107 police officers.
It’s not just the culture budget that has seen generous increases in funding under this Mayor at the expense of police funding. He’s massively increased staff numbers at City Hall, from which his personal press office has benefited. In fact, this year, the GLA Conservatives identified £104 million worth of funding that Khan could easily divert to fund an extra 1598 police officers. The Mayor refused to do it.
The Mayor’s dishonesty isn’t a new thing; it goes back to early in his Mayoralty. When Boris left office, he left London in a good place; crime was down on when he came to power, despite all the cuts to the police budget occurring during his time in office. The police had the numbers they needed, and Boris had guaranteed that enough funding would be available to fund at least 32,000 police officers. Then, when the current Mayor came to power, he cut £38m from the policing budget, while increasing spending at City Hall. This was his choice; the government funding cuts had already occurred and the current Mayor has actually seen income increase throughout his time in office.
It’s not just money that the police have lacked under this Mayor, but support. He spent his professional career before entering politics suing the police. He even wrote a ‘how to’ guide for people wanting to sue the police for damages. As Mayor, he has continued to undermine the police. Before taking office, he said “’I’d do everything in my power to cut stop and search’”, and he did just that, cutting stop and search to very low levels. Then, quelle surprise, knife and violent crime skyrocketed. Once he realised the error of his ways, he reversed his decision, but it was too little too late. I had previously warned of the dangers of cutting stop and search, but he failed to heed my warning.
Thankfully, while we have an incompetent Mayor, we have a capable government led by Boris Johnson who is putting an extra 20,000 police officers on our streets. In the next few weeks, Londoners will yet again be going to the ballot box. I imagine that the priority of my constituents in Havering and Redbridge will be to make London safe – not to continue the current Mayor’s preference for press officers over police officers.