Concerns as ‘buy one get one free’ police scheme for councils faces the axe
PUBLISHED: 17:46 03 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:53 03 January 2019
A ‘buy one get on free’ scheme that allows councils to fund extra police officers for their borough is facing the axe due to cuts.
City Hall and the Met Police are reviewing “Patrol Plus” where they would fund a new police officer for every one paid for by a local authority.
The scheme was led by former mayor Boris Johnson and is currently funding 339 police officers across the capital.
More than half of London boroughs take part with Newham currently funding 40 officers and 38 are paid for by Tower Hamlets.
The officers are predominately tasked with tackling crimes identified as a priority by councils, such as gangs and anti-social behaviour.
However council’s have been told the scheme could be a casualty as the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) looks to cut its budget.
A majority of the officers funded by Newham to the tune of £1.4million a year are placed in Stratford town centre to help deal with anti-social behaviour.
Matthew Hooper, Newham’s director of enforcement, said: “It is something councils are worrying about.
“We have a couple of years left on our contract and City Hall has said it will honour it. But we are not sure yet what will happen after that. If we are still able to have our own officers then we assume the cost will be much higher.”
Kensington and Chelsea Council pay for 41 extra officers to tackle gang related crime..
A spokesman for the council said it “could halve the number of officers on some streets in some boroughs pretty much overnight”.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council said it was funding the most police in the borough’s history and the largest number in London.
A spokesman for the west London borough added: “We will never support any measure that cuts police numbers on our streets and call for a re-think.”
Sophie Linden, deputy mayor for policing and crime, said: “Government cuts will have forced the Met to make £1billion of savings since 2010 and seen officer numbers fall below 30,000 for the first time in 15 years.
“In light of this, the Met Patrol Plus scheme is being reviewed but no decisions have been taken.
“The Mayor is showing leadership by investing in the Met’s violent crime taskforce and creating a new Violence Reduction Unit to tackle the root causes of crime.
“However, this alone will not fill the huge gap left by government cuts. Assembly members should be working with City Hall to put pressure on Ministers to reverse their cuts to policing so we can put more officers on our streets.”