The announcement that the Met has been given a £90million government grant to keep officer numbers high after the Olympics is great news for London. It had been feared that police numbers could fall after the policing frenzy of the Olympic Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. That now won’t happen.
This is also obviously good news for Boris – on two fronts. Firstly, it means that his commitment to high police numbers and cutting crime can continue into the future. In every recent mayoral poll that has asked the question, Londoners have backed Boris as the candidate they most trust on crime and policing. That’s not serendipitous; that’s a reflection of demonstrably large cuts in crime – crime overall down by 10%, robberies down by 17%, youth violence down by 16%, bus crime down by 30%, the lowest murder rate since 1978. By May there will be one thousand more police on the streets than there were in 2008, and there are already one million more police patrols each year. This extra funding will ensure that continues.
Secondly, the news tallies with last week’s ComRes poll in which Boris led Ken 42%-21% as the most likely to be able to get the best deal for London from central government. According to the Standard article, Boris had lobbied ministers aggressively to ensure no fall in officer numbers at the end of the year, and got just what he was looking for. This follows, of course, his success in securing Tube upgrade and Crossrail investment (which the Evening Standard described as a “genuine achievement”), as well as a significant increase in HS2 investment in London. Any idea that George Osborne would respond as well to Ken Livingstone (who recently ‘joked’ that the chancellor should be hanged) is frankly ludicrous. London needs a mayor who can negotiate successfully with the chancellor, not one who facetiously wishes the chancellor dead.