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View from City Hall: Fighting austerity and funding police

PUBLISHED: 08:30 10 February 2019

Archant

I attended a Royal Docks community meeting last week, to speak with some 200 residents on a number of issues.

Crime was understandably a top concern, with those in attendance wanting to see more police on the streets. I share their concerns. Frustratingly, the government has cut £850m from the Met’s budget since 2010, with another £263m of cuts to be made over the next four years.

I will continue in 2019 to campaign against austerity cuts, for the Met to be funded fairly and more resources targeted for Newham.

As a Newham councillor I was proud to help pioneer the S92 police officer scheme, where councils such as Newham can “buy” an officer and get another funded through City Hall, to work on their crime priorities, and will be lobbying for the London mayor to ensure this initiative is retained.

In light of government cuts, and as a member of the GLA’s budget committee, I was happy to approve the extra £85m of spending on the police in mayor Khan’s draft budget last week. This will allow stabilisation in terms of police numbers, whilst crucial interventions such as the Violent Crime Task Force and Young Londoners are maintained.

I also recently chaired a police and crime committee meeting hearing evidence on stop and search. Nearly 40 years ago I was involved in community campaigns on this issue in the aftermath of the Brixton Riots. It was saddening to hear similar concerns to those raised at that time being voiced today. Used properly and with police body-worn video cameras, stop and search is an important part of the fight against crime, with its use certainly having improved since the 1980s. However, I will continue to campaign for more to be done to raise public awareness of their rights with regards to this.

On a final note I was shocked to see the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s research which showed 2.6m people in the UK are Holocaust deniers. It was, therefore, even more important to mark Holocaust Memorial Day with events I attended taking place at City Hall and Newham Town Hall, and to listen to survivors’ experiences.

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