Letter for publication: police cuts rebuttal, June 19, Barnet times

Dear Editor,

It was disappointing and troubling to see Conservative Councillor Roberto Weedon-Sanz take to Twitter last Wednesday to use the aftermath of the murder in Barnet last week as an opportunity to make a political attack.

The Councillor placed the blame for the incident, which led to the tragic murder of one man and two others hospitalised, at the feet of the Mayor. He chooses to ignore the  fact that the real culprits here are of course the criminals that engaged in the violence. The claim made by Councillor Weedon-Sanz that the Mayor does not care about violent crime is both irresponsible and distasteful.

I also note in your columns the Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet, Mrs Villiers,  has been raising the need for more police. I think she must be having a bout of amnesia. We would still have the higher number of police officers we had in 2010 when the Conservatives took power if , when she was  a Cabinet Minister, she had not supported the £1 billion cuts to  the police budget which have  directly led to the loss of thousands of London’s police officers and PCSOs, and  the closure of police stations.

Despite those cuts, the reality is that Mayor Khan has invested millions of pounds of more funding in the Metropolitan Police to pay for an extra 1,000 officers we would not otherwise have, launched the Violent Crime Taskforce to remove the most dangerous criminals from our streets, created  the Violence Reduction Unit to spearhead a public health approach to violent crime, and introduced a £45 million Young Londoners Fund to boost early intervention initiatives.

We can all agree that we need more police in our community, but to achieve that needs a reality check. Restoring officer numbers means restoring the cuts. We should all be coming together – and especially Conservative politicians – to support the Mayor in his lobbying of  the Government to fund adequately our police by reversing the £1 billion worth of cuts the Met. are facing by the end of the current spending round.

Andrew Dismore AM

Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden