Last week saw the Home Secretary announce the government’s 2020-21 police recruitment targets which sees London benefit from over 1,400 more officers in the capital.
These extra numbers are part of the first wave in a 20,000-officer recruitment drive promised by the Prime Minister, as the government looks to crack down on criminals by empowering our police and strengthening sentencing.
This is most-welcome news for the Cities of London and Westminster which has, regrettably, seen a steady increase in crime over recent years and stands to benefit from more officers to cover community roles and to police the evening and night time economy.
The Chancellor has made £750 million available to fund the first year of this ambitious plan and an extra £45 million this year to kick-start recruitment. The first 2,000 officers aim to be in place by the end of March.
This considerable investment builds on the 2019-20 police funding settlement which saw a total increase of £176 million for both the Metropolitan and City of London Police forces, as well as an extra £14 million in London-specific grants.
In addition to the recruitment targets, the Home Secretary announced that a pilot easing restriction around emergency stop and search powers has been extended to all police forces in England and Wales – a step that has been warmly welcomed by both officers and relatives of knife crime victims.
With robbery a key driver of knife crime and so prevalent in the Cities of London and Westminster, giving police the ability to stop and search potential criminals in an intelligence-led way will be invaluable to protecting local people. Indeed, the arrest rate for all types of stop and search was 17 per cent in 2017-18 – the highest on record – while the Metropolitan Police has credited stop and searches of all types in helping to reduce knife-related injuries among under 25s by 15 per cent in 2017-18.
The fight against crime is, of course, a continual battle. With these latest announcements, I am confident that police in the Cities of London and Westminster will have a strong platform from which to meet that challenge, and hope you will agree that they are a clear demonstration of the Prime Minister’s unequivocal commitment to keeping our streets safe and protecting the public.
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