Labour’s Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone says he would reverse “cuts” to London’s police numbers if elected in May.
The number of Met officers has long been contested by Livingstone and Mayor Boris Johnson who has promised there will be “around 1,000 more fully warranted police officers on London’s streets at the end of this term than I inherited.”
According to figures prepared for last week’s London Assembly Crime and Policing Committee, officer numbers were 31,398 in March 2008 and peaked at 33,260 in March 2010.
They’ve since fallen to 31,248 in November 2011 and are expected to rise to 32,320 by this March.
Interviewed by LBC’s Nick Ferrari last month, Mayor Johnson appeared to accept number had fallen by 1,700 during his term but vowed: “we will have more police on the beat at the end of this four year term than there were at the beginning.”
In July 2010 Livingstone appeared before the Metropolitan Police Authority to protest at a reduction in officer numbers. Critics said the cuts he spoke against had their origins in Project Herald, a plan first drawn up during his own Mayoralty.
On Tuesday Mr Livingstone said: “Boris Johnson has admitted cutting 1,700 police officers. If I am elected, I will reverse his cuts”
The former Mayor said he would also reverse a decision to share sergeants between some Safer Neighbourhood Teams.
Last week the Home Office awarded the Met a further £90m to help respond to challenges associated with policing the Olympic Games and Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.
London Assembly Member Jenny Jones, who is also a candidate in May’s Mayoral election, has expressed concern that “once this one off grant money is spent, the Met will be unable to maintain officer numbers at this level without dramatically reducing the number of civilian staff and PCSOs.”.
Jones said she was “worried that the Mayor’s fixation with keeping up officer numbers means the Met will end up with police officers behind desks in roles that can be done more cheaply and more effectively by police staff.”
A spokesman for Boris Johnson’s re-election campaign said: “It is a fact that there are more police on London’s streets now than when Boris Johnson became Mayor in May 2008 and the numbers are rising. Due to this crime has come down by over 10% and murder is at its lowest level since 1978.
“Boris Johnson has done this by working constructively with Government and bringing City Hall’s finances under control after years of waste. And because he has secured £90m from central Government, police numbers will remain high after the Olympics, meaning London will become safer.”