Letter for publication: rebuttal to Jessica Learmond-Criqui

Dear editor

Jessica Learmond-Criqui’s wild allegations against the Mayor cannot go unanswered and it is time for once she got her facts right.

She accuses the Mayor of issuing a ‘diktat’ to take officers away from Hampstead. Arrant nonsense.  Decisions re the deployment of officers are operational matters for the Metropolitan Police chain of command to decide, and it is  blindingly obvious that the Mayor could not, even if he wanted to, micromanage  the postings of individual officers in each of the hundreds of wards that make up London.

She also overlooks the fact  that the Mayor has increased his share of  the council tax by 4.99% as part of his £110 million additional funding for the Met this year – the biggest ever additional contribution from City Hall towards the Met’s budget. This will deliver 1,000 more  officers for the Met than would otherwise be possible. All that tax increase is going either   the Met and the London Fire Brigade, post Grenfell.

The problem remains that we now have about 30,000 officers across the Met, compared to the 36,000 when we had a Labour Government, never mind the loss of police staff and PCSOs. This cut is due to due to the decisions of the Conservative Government to cut £600 million so far, with a further £400 million cuts to come over the next 3 years, combined with their failure to underfund the Met. for its capital city functions by c £175 million, their refusal even to countenance the costs of policing football being met by the football clubs (another £10 million across London between the Met and also British Transport Police for the tube and stations ) and the decisions of the previous Conservative Mayor to freeze and then cut the council tax, meaning that cumulatively there is now far less for the police. That scale of loss cannot now be made up by the Mayor’s precept.

Why does Ms Learmond-Criqui completely fail to acknowledge where the real problem lies – With the Conservative Government that has cut the Met’s funding by c 40%?

Instead she demands the Mayor holds a referendum to increase the council tax by even more than the 4.99% he decided upon and which was endorsed by the London Assembly. She  overlooks the fact that the reason officer numbers are under strain is due to the Conservative Government ’s chronic underfunding of the Met. She overlooks the inconvenient small print detail that the gearing  of the funding split between central Government  and the Mayor’s police precept is such that any additional increase would have to be well into double figures to make any significant difference – and this at a time when most Londoners are feeling the pinch of austerity and high housing costs. She overlooks the fact  that a referendum would cost millions better spent on police officers; and she  overlooks the fact  that whenever such referendums have been held elsewhere, unsurprisingly they have always failed.

Yours faithfully

Andrew Dismore AM

London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden



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