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Police cuts by a third with rising crime is ‘devastating’, Tower Hamlets warns government

PUBLISHED: 11:00 12 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:05 13 February 2018

Warning shot from Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs about police cuts to PM Theresa May. Picture: Mike Brooke

Warning shot from Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs about police cuts to PM Theresa May. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Eight years of continued cuts by the government in police funding is “devastating” for Tower Hamlets with its rising crime and one-in-three officers lost.

Tower Hamlets Council dipping into its coffers to fill police budget gap. Picture: Mike BrookeTower Hamlets Council dipping into its coffers to fill police budget gap. Picture: Mike Brooke

That’s the stark warning today by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets who has slammed Downing Street over its reductions to the Met’s budget every year since 2010.

John Biggs has warned that repeated cuts are having “a serious impact on policing” with new figures showing that cash to run the Met is being slashed for an eighth consecutive year.

“The government missed an opportunity to reverse its cuts and give our police the resources they need,” he stormed.

Mayor John Biggs urging more police funding for Tower Hamlets. Picture: Mike BrookeMayor John Biggs urging more police funding for Tower Hamlets. Picture: Mike Brooke

“These cuts have a real impact, as we’ve seen with dwindling police numbers and the closures of police front counters.”

The government had a narrow majority when MPs voted on the latest round of police budget cuts last Wednesday.

Officers have been reduced by a third in the Met’s Tower Hamlets division in the past eight years, with the loss of 197 from the ranks and 98 support officers between 2010 and 2017 alone.

Closed... front-counter service at Limehouse police station. Picture: GoogleClosed... front-counter service at Limehouse police station. Picture: Google

The council is having to dip into town hall coffers to pay for 39 new recruits.

“But we cannot replace every police officer the government scraps,” the Labour mayor is warning the prime minister.

It is also taking on measures to help stop rising crime such as acid attacks which include a voluntary local charter to stop over-the-counter sales of corrosive substances to anyone under 18 and lobbying Parliament for tougher laws.

Cuts... Brick Lane police office. Picture: GoogleCuts... Brick Lane police office. Picture: Google

All this is under way as front counter services have closed at Limehouse police station as well as neighbourhood offices at Poplar’s Chrisp Street Market and Spitalfields’ Brick Lane office. Bethnal Green is now the only 24-hour front-counter service left operating.

The latest round of cuts come with breaking news today that the Met is to merge Tower Hamlets and neighbouring Hackney police divisions later this year in a desperate effort to cut £325 million in running costs.

Meanwhile, national statistics show recorded crime has risen by 14 per cent in the last 12 months, the highest annual increase since 1992, while police numbers are now at the lowest level in three decades. Cuts since 2010 have reduced the Met’s spending by £600m with a further £400m in the years ahead.

Many police stations have closed over the years, like Commercial Street where Jack the Ripper hunt was opened. Picture: GoogleMany police stations have closed over the years, like Commercial Street where Jack the Ripper hunt was opened. Picture: Google

Tower Hamlets cabinet member Asma Begum said: “Crime and anti-social behaviour is one of the public’s biggest concerns. But police numbers are now at the lowest level in three decades. The government’s cuts are having a real impact.”

The number of recorded crimes in the Met’s Tower Hamlets division rose from 27,000 eight years ago to 31,600 last year.

The council is urging Downing Street to “properly fund our police” in its role to tackle crime.

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