Mayor Promising More Bobbies on the Beat

Sadiq Khan says increased funding will go towards neighbourhood policing

Picture: Michael Koolman

There will be more ‘bobbies on the beat’ as new recruits join the Met police, the Mayor of London has said.

Sadiq Khan said local police made people feel safer – but he has not yet said how many new recruits will join neighborhood teams.

Each council ward in London currently has two dedicated constables and a community support officer – a member of staff with limited police powers.

Sadiq Khan introduced an extra constable to each ward in 2017. Local police numbers had fallen during Boris Johnson’s mayoralty.

Under former mayor Ken Livingstone, local neighbourhood teams had six officers: a sergeant, two constables, and three community support officers.

But the Met has faced budget cuts from central Government, making £900 million of savings since 2010.

Last year, police numbers in the capital fell below 30,000 for the first time in more than a decade.

And the Mayor admitted that with fewer police on the streets “it’s hardly surprising that in some parts of London people don’t see a police officer”.

There are now around 31,000 officers, as new recruits funded by City Hall join the ranks.

The Prime Minister has also pledged 1,400 central government funded officers for London, as part of a drive to recruit 20,000 more police nationally.

But the Mayor reminded the London Assembly on Thursday that funding for these officers has not yet been received.

He said: “The problem is there are so few officers and that leads to greater extractions from wards. We need more police in London.”

He added: “Even if we’ve got the officers, we want most of them to be on the streets making us feel safer as well as being safer.”

Earlier this week, London Councils, the body representing the capital’s 32 boroughs, called for an extra 600 local police.

Councillor Peter John, leader of Southwark Council and chairman of the organisation, said local teams were “hugely stretched”.

He said: “While specialist units tackling violent crime, domestic abuse and drug dealing are vital, it’s equally important that London’s share of new policing recruits includes ‘bobbies on the beat’.”

And speaking at Mayor’s Question Time on Thursday, Brexit Alliance assembly member Peter Whittle said visible community policing was essential.

He said: “It seems to me one of the reasons there’s such a lack of confidence at the moment is the total lack of visibility [of police] to most people.”

He added: “They’re just simply invisible. I don’t think that’s just the lack of numbers. It seems to be the ethos to change from being protective to being reactive.”

The Metropolitan Police did not respond to a request for comment.


Jessie Matthewson - Local Democracy Reporter

January 18, 2020