Monday, 21 December 2009

Boris Johnson's Police Cuts: Nothing to see here

I've been slightly surprised at the lack of reaction to the news that Boris Johnson will remove hundreds of police officers from the Met.

There's been some protest in the blogosphere, and amongst the police but otherwise the press and Boris's opponents have largely ignored it.

The Assembly's self-proclaimed champion of the police has also been strangely quiet.

So why is this? Some clues can be found in this commentary from former Met Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman at the Times:

"It is unfortunate that for Olympic year, when we will need more police officers to help deliver a safe Games, the Mayor of London is forecasting a reduction in the number on the streets.

I am confident that by 2012 that will be a nationwide situation with forces across the country trying to balance the books."

So are the government holding back on Boris, because they too intend to reduce numbers?

And when Boris and other politicians speak of police numbers being at "a historical high" are they really just committing those highs to history?

Boris has repeatedly tried to distract us from these cuts by drawing attention to Operation Herald.

However, like me, Hayman is sceptical about the effect of these "civilianisation" programmes:

"Boris Johnson talks of moving officers from the back office to the front line. That process has been going on for years and will make only a marginal impact.

The police minister told me recently that the police will be expected to do more with less. In any other sector that would prompt a rethink on whether the business is being properly organised but in policing it leads to further salami slicing of the budget. It is obvious that eventually there will be nothing to slice from."

Boris's Deputy for Policing also talks of officers doing more for less, which in reality may mean them doing more, but doing it less well.

And as Dave Hill wrote a while back, London Tories are keen to label the question of police numbers a "sterile debate" (when it suits them).

I am not convinced that the public will see it this way.


Anonymous said...

The media are only interested in one Boris story at a tim and at the moment it is Boris standing against Cameron for PM.

AdamB said...

Never mind the moment anonymous, that's the only story they're interested in full stop.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

And unlike the police story, is all air and bluster, whereas the police cuts are a terrible reality.

Anonymous said...

And as well as that, here in Waltham Forest we won't be getting any more officers, despite having the same crime rates as neighbouring boroughs who have way more police than we do.

Thanks a lot, Boris.

AdamB said...

Thanks for the link EM. I'd like to see how they work out who gets what.

Anonymous said...

Politician's have already got the criminals laughing at the Police so why dont they also take away their truncheons and extract Police dogs teeth whilst they are about it. Then once the Greedy Politician's have control of Police Operational control they can legalise just about anything they want and protect their own self interests . With less Police on the beat London is sure to become a successful Gotham City Twin Sister!.