In the aftermath of a budget which ignored months of calls for more cash for London, Sadiq Khan has issued a press release in which he blames Chancellor Phillip Hammond for forcing him to axe Boris Johnson’s commitment to maintain Met police officer numbers “at or around 32,000”
In his release, the Mayor says:
“It is sadly now inevitable that police officer numbers will continue to fall – potentially to as few as 27,500 by 2021 – and we are left with no choice but to scrap London’s strategic target for 32,000 police officers that has been in place since 2012.”
It’s a good line which has already been picked up and repeated by some media outlets and on social media. However the statement ignores that the London Assembly has already urged Sadiq to drop the target because it’s meaningless.
Last month a report from the body’s Budget and Performance Committee, which contains a majority of Labour politicians, said:
“The idea that London needs 32,000 police officers has never been properly explained and it has become something of a millstone around the necks of successive Mayors and Commissioners.
“The Met and MOPAC themselves have not been able to clarify the calculation for us. And none of the guests at our July 2017 meeting, including the HMIC, the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the Police Foundation and Police Federation, could explain why the target is 32,000 officers.”
Instead of perpetuating the baseless target, the Committee urged the Mayor to replace it with one which is “set by evidence based on the level of service required across London.”
Most politicians would have grabbed that cross party support to abandon the “millstone” and set to work on finding a more deliverable figure.
But Sadiq instead continues to treat with the number with a reverence even his own party colleagues say it doesn’t deserve just so he can lob brickbats at the Government.
Somewhere in all this may be a clue as to why Sadiq’s list of asks from Ministers is a lot longer than his list of gains.