Boris Johnson has been forced to distance himself from comments by Conservative London Assembly Member Richard Barnes which implied he would review the policy of each neighbourhood having a dedicated policing team.
The Local Government Chronicle quotes Richard Barnes AM as saying it was a “key plank” of Boris Johnson’s polcies to review the system which prevents the teams being deployed outside their assigned areas.
The comments were seized on by Labour’s Home Secretary Jacqui Smith who claimed they amounted to evidence of a secret plan by Mr Johnson to scrap neighbourhood policing in the capital. “These comments expose the truth behind Boris Johnson’s claims that he can be trusted with Londoners’ safety” Ms Smith said in a statement issued this afternoon.
“Boris Johnson has continually tried to hide what he means when he says there is scope for ‘real economies’ and ‘real savings’ in the Metropolitan Police. Now the truth about his secret plan is out. Thanks to the Tory leader in London, we know that cuts to neighbourhood policing are a ‘major plank’ of Boris Johnson’s plans.”
Clearly aware of the potential for huge damage to his campaign Mr Johnson has issued a statement distancing himself from Mr Barnes’ comments which he says “do not reflect my policy on policing whatsoever.”
“I made it clear in my Crime Manifesto that I support Safer Neighbourhood Teams, and I have absolutely no intention of changing how they operate. Furthermore I am a strong supporter of the neighbourhood policing model, and I am committed to keeping at least 6 officers in every ward in London under my leadership.”
The row comes as Mr Johnson joined Conservative leader David Cameron to launch a policy paper on Crime Mapping. Speaking at that event Mr Johnson said “Londoners do not feel sufficiently connected to the police or know what crime is taking place in their area, how often and when. As Mayor I will empower local people and give them much more information about the levels of crime on their streets.”