Police Grant Settlement welcome, but police finances not out of the woods and Camden and Barnet’s PCSOs still at risk

Speaking after a meeting of City Hall’s police committee today which reviewed the impact of the Government’s Autumn Statement on police budgets, ANDREW DISMORE, said:

“The Chancellor has been forced to retreat on his original intention to cut the Met’s forward budget by up to 40%, but he has not saved the jobs of Camden’s 33 remaining Police Community Support Officers or the 52 in Barnet.

“George Osborne has failed to protect Neighbourhood Policing in London, which senior officers say makes such a strong contribution to community safety and the fight against terrorism.

“The Met is not out of the financial woods and still has budget pressures of £400 million to find over four years, half the original expected cut.

“The Met’s savings options remain on the table, including the future of the PCSOs, which will be decided in January, and the changes to rank structures, cross borough border working, and sell-off of 300 out of 400 police buildings.

“The Chancellor’s climbdown is welcome and is a tribute to all those who campaigned against his extreme cuts, which Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan Howe said would put London at risk.

“Now we need to keep campaigning to make sure that the dangerous mistake of closing down Neighbourhood Policing and taking our PCSOs off the streets is not allowed to happen.

“The Met is still not properly reimbursed for its Capital City function: the grant for this is £174 million, but the amount spent is £340 million.

“The national police funding formula which would have cut the Met by £184 million has been taken back for further reworking, so it remains an open question as to how this will turn out next year.

“Another major threat to community safety comes from the cut in local government funding.

“This puts at risk the non-statutory, discretionary work councils do on community safety, for example the funding of CCTV schemes and diversionary activities for young people at risk of becoming involved in crime; or the ‘buy one get one free’ deals that some councils operate with the Met: local boroughs currently directly fund 338 police officers across London.

“While we welcome the decision not to cut the police grant, the Met’s finances remain under strain and when combined with the impact of local government cuts community safety remains a major challenge for us all.”