Chancellor challenged over police cuts ahead of budget by Tower Hamlets’ mayor
PUBLISHED: 19:01 20 November 2017 | UPDATED: 19:02 20 November 2017
A warning shot has been fires at the Chancellor ahead of Wednesday’s Budget if it leads to the “devastating” cuts the Mayor of Tower Hamlets fears on police spending.
John Biggs is using Wednesday’s full council meeting, the same day as chancellor Philip Hammond makes his budget address to Parliament, to slam government spending reductions unless there’s a dramatic last-minute U-turn.
All front-counter serves are closing in London’s East End except for Bethnal Green police station, remaining open 24-hours a day, with no more public access at Limehouse and the police office in Brick Lane—in the heart of the Spitalfields ‘night life’ quarter—being closed down altogether.
“It’s going to be catastrophic,” Mayor Biggs told the East London Advertiser tonight.
“Public confidence is suffering by cuts already made now reaching a point where people are at risk.
“People’s anxiety has risen about the recent spate in acid attacks, although numbers of incidents remain low.
“I hope the Chancellor comes back with ideas on Wednesday to address this public anxiety—he needs to find a way a way to relax cuts on police budgets.”
The Met Police has made £600m cuts since 2013 and is being asked to make further £400 million savings by 2020-21.
“The reality is fewer police officers on our streets,” Mayor Biggs warned. “It’s important we stand up for local people—that’s what I was elected for.”
The mayor has sent a letter to the Chancellor ahead of Wednesday’s budget speech in which he warns of special concern in an area that includes key security sites like Canary Wharf.
Tower Hamlets has already lost 197 officers and 98 support officers since 2010—yet the population has crashed through the 300,000 barrier and is predicted to rise by another 100,000 in the next decade.
The town hall is forking out cash to bring total number of council-funded officers up to 39.
But the mayor adds: “We cannot replace every police officer that is taken off our streets because of police funding cuts.” He calls on the chancellor to “give the police the funding they need”.
Cuts over the past five years have seen reduced hours and eventual closure of Chrisp Street police office and reduced neighbourhood police teams like Shadwell down from six officers and a sergeant to just one or two.
Police cuts are not new to the East End. The Isle of Dogs has long since lost its neighbourhood police office. Other long-vanished police stations over the years have included Arbour Square, Commercial Street and Leman Street. Even the River police at Wapping closed their front counter.