Tower Hamlets backs Met Police chief on ‘police cuts linked to crime wave’
PUBLISHED: 19:00 06 June 2018 | UPDATED: 19:23 06 June 2018
© Rehan Jamil
Government ministers have been slammed by Tower Hamlets Council for denying that reducing police numbers has caused the shock rise in street crime.
The Metropolitan Police commissioner has even suggested ministers were “naive” to say there was no evidence that the cuts have had an impact on crime levels.
Now Mayor John Biggs has agreed with the police chief that former Home Secretary Amber Rudd was being “naïve” to suggest reducing police numbers hasn’t affected soaring crime rates.
“I completely agree with the commissioner,” he said today. “It’s naive for Tory ministers to say police cuts have no impact.
“Slashing numbers has a real impact on our streets and the government is simply in denial.”
The council was helping to plug the gap by footing the bill to recruit 39 extra officers—“but we can’t replace every officer the government scraps”.
Tower Hamlets Support officers, for example, were cut by the government and former London Mayor Boris Johnson from 125 in 2010 to just 27 last year, while three police stations at Brick Lane, Limehouse and the Isle of Dogs were shut down.
Amber Rudd, who resigned over the Windrush scandal, had dismissed claims last month when she was at the Home Office that cuts were not to blame for the rise in crime, insisting that police had resources and manpower to tackle increased violence.
The cuts have continued year-on-year in the face of warnings about public safety from Tower Hamlets Council and its pleas for “proper funding to do the job”.
Deputy Mayor for community safety Asma Begum said: “We have repeatedly warned about police budgets. Now even the police commissioner is ‘calling out’ the government’s delusion that cutting officers somehow doesn’t impact on crime.
“Yet again we ask the government to give the police proper funding to do the job.”
Police Commissioner Cressida Dick set herself at odds with the government telling the Parliamentary Home Affairs committee that cuts had played a role in a surge in gun and knife violence.
She had told MPs: “It would be naive to suggest that reduced numbers on the streets had no impact. It has had an impact.”
Ministers had repeatedly played down links between rising crime rates and falling police numbers, the committee heard, with official figures showing 20,000 fewer officers over the past eight years across the country when knife crime soared by 22 per cent and gun crime by 11 per cent.