Government must cough up the cash for Met to combat violent crime says senior Redbridge councillor

Violent crime could rise in Redbridge and across the capital if the Government does not provide more funding for the police, Redbridge Council’s deputy leader claims.

The effect of coronavirus on the finances of the Metropolitan Police and City Hall means cuts of up to £110 million may be necessary by 2022.

The Met has already had to make savings of £850 million in the last decade due to Government cuts.

Cllr Kam Rai (Lab, Goodmayes) said the Government “must cough up the money” to reimburse the Met’s extra expenditure and loss of income caused by the pandemic.

He said: “If they fail to do so, they run the risk of another rise in violent crime as lockdown is lifted.

“A decade of austerity has already had grave consequences for our police service and our communities, and further cuts would stretch the thin blue line to breaking point, putting the safety of our residents at risk.

“Given the incredible way Londoners have responded to this pandemic, it is completely unacceptable that Boris Johnson’s government is forcing a new era of austerity on Londoners.”

Cllr Judith Garfield (Lab, Barkingside), Local Assembly candidate for Havering and Redbridge, added that cuts over the past decade meant that service was already “underresourced and overstretched”.

She said: “It is outrageous that the Tories would even consider forcing the Met to make additional cuts by starving the service of the funding it urgently needs.

“The Government should be protecting frontline policing, not making counterproductive cuts that will undermine efforts to tackle violent crime across our city.” 

Responding to this criticism, a spokesperson for the Home Office said London has already received “an unprecedented package of support”.

They said: “We have been clear that police forces across the country will get the financial backing they need to see them through the coronavirus pandemic.

“We previously announced the most substantial police funding increase since 2010 and continue to invest heavily in communities to tackle the root causes of violent crime and support vulnerable young people.

“Greater London Authority spending power has increased to £2.27 billion on top of emergency funding.”

The Metropolitan Police will receive £2.9 billion in funding this year and London areas worst impacted by violence received £48 million over two years towards Violence Reduction Units.

The Government has also promised to reimburse forces’ spending on personal protective equipment between March and the end of July.

Redbridge Council has continuously campaigned for more assurances from the Government that it will plug the “black hole” in its finances caused by the pandemic.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter