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February 24, 2011

Police: Boris right, Labour wrong.

One of the biggest debates in London politics in the last couple of weeks has centered around Boris’ claim that there’ll be more police in London by 2012 than there were in 2008. This isn’t just something for him to be proud of – although he should be – but is the fulfillment of a key pledge he made back at the last election. Boris is adamant that his estimations are accurate, while Labour have insisted, desperately, that he’s making it up. Yesterday, the dispute boiled over and Labour’s John Biggs called Boris a ‘lazy liar’, an unnecessarily (yet typically) offensive comment that saw him banned from speaking for the rest of the London Assembly session.

Well, the London Evening Standard have investigated the respective claims and have adjudicated in Boris’ favour. They say the following:

“Extra money the Mayor has transferred from reserves will help fund officers in addition to numbers originally planned, even if it is hard to be certain about the exact eventual figures. Moreover, it seems almost certain that there will be more officers by next spring than the 31,398 in post in May 2008. Mr Johnson will thus have kept his election pledge.”

That suggests that it is Mr Biggs, not Boris, who is the liar. Indeed, attempting to cast aspersions on Boris’ integrity in the area of crime and policing was never going to end well for Labour. It was announced last month that the murder rate in London is at its lowest since 1978, crime has fallen by 5% since Boris became mayor in 2008, murders have fallen by 25%, youth crime has fallen by 11%, robberies have fallen by 19%, and there’s been a notable decrease in knife and race hate murders. Just yesterday, it was revealed that transport crime in London is at a six-year low, with offences down by 30% over the past three years. All of this, of course, despite a sizeable recession which would typically be expected to result in an upturn in crime. If you add to that an increase in police numbers when cuts would typically be expected, it becomes¬†abundantly clear that crime and policing is the area of Boris’ greatest achievement.

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