Call for more Police for SW15 and Wandsworth

Council leader Edward Lister has called on the Mayor to explain just how many of the 1,000 extra police he has promised in return for his £51 council tax increase will actually come to Wandsworth.

Since the GLA was set up in May 2000 the amount paid by Londoners in their council tax bill will have soared from £123 to £224.40 - an increase of 82 per cent in three years.

In each of the three years for which he has been responsible for setting the budget the Mayor has sought to justify the large increases by promises of more police.

Last year alone Wandsworth could have expected to have received its share of some 1,240 additional officers. But police manpower statistics for Wandsworth show that numbers locally have fallen from 558 in December 2001 to 539 at the end of 2002.

Wandsworth loses out because the formula for allocating police to the boroughs does not take enough account of the incidence of many of the most threatening crimes including muggings, assault and burglary. A Wandsworth study last year revealed that the model used by the MPA to predict crime levels seriously understates the actual rate in boroughs situated just outside core inner city areas of the capital.

Cllr Lister said the council had repeatedly called for a review of the formula's inequalities which held numbers down in Wandsworth:

".. residents are not getting what the Mayor promised them. We keep paying and he keeps sending the police elsewhere. This is unfair on the borough police commander who has to juggle
priorities with increasingly stretched resources and unfair on the people of the borough who have paid for officers that they may never see.

"The Mayor is also promising 500 community support officers which will have similar powers to our own street patrollers. These, we are assured, will be allocated on the basis of population. We will be insisting that Wandsworth, having lost out for so long on actual bobbies on the beat,
gets its fair share of these auxiliaries."

Much of the London-wide growth in police numbers is made up of new trainees. But for every one that is posted to Wandsworth the borough loses an existing, experienced officer. This is because police commanders are not allowed to recruit above their budgeted number. In
Wandsworth this limit is currently 558.

Boroughs which have gained over the last year include Hillingdon (101 extra), Hounslow (87), Tower Hamlets (92), Lambeth (79), Barking (65) and Newham (60).

13 February 2003

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