Foot the Bill: Hackney Council demands government steps up police funding amid devastating cuts

Cllr Caroline Selman will write to home secretary Amber Rudd. Picture: Polly Hancock

Cllr Caroline Selman will write to home secretary Amber Rudd. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A rise in crime across Hackney has forced the town hall into a major campaign calling on the government to reverse crippling cuts to police.

Hackney has lost 1 in 4 of its officers since 2010.

Hackney has lost 1 in 4 of its officers since 2010. - Credit: Archant

The borough had a 12 per cent spike in crime last year and the town hall lays the blame for that with the government.

A motion was passed at Wednesday’s full council meeting to put pressure on Whitehall to halt that rise, and community safety chief Cllr Caroline Selman will now write to Amber Rudd telling her to intervene.

The Met has been forced to make £600million of savings since 2010 with £400m more to come by 2021. In real terms, that’s resulted in Hackney losing one in every four officers over the last seven years – 200 in total.

Add that to a booming population, the ever-increasing cost of policing the night-time economy and a national rise in crime and the situation becomes untenable.

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That’s why the amusingly named Foot the Bill campaign has been launched.

“Resident meetings highlight a lot of concerns from people who are seeing the strain local ward officers are under,” Cllr Selman told the Gazette. “They are starting to see the impact of the cuts.

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“We and the police know what we need to do, but the police need the backing to be able to do it.

Shoreditch police station could close. Picture: Oxyman/Geograph (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Shoreditch police station could close. Picture: Oxyman/Geograph (CC BY-SA 2.0) - Credit: Archant

“We understand as a council the importance of sensible management of our budget. But community safety is not something you should be scrimping on.”

Cllr Selman said Hackney’s long arm of the law was doing an “incredible” job with the resources available to them but the impact of the cuts was plain to see.

The council works closely with community cops to deal with local issues, but Cllr Selman said it’s impossible to cover all the bases.

“We are trying to do our bit,” she said. “We’ve brought in the late-night levy to help fund the night-time economy, we’ve employed more enforcement officers, from 15 to 24, and we are continuing to invest in our CCTV system. But we cannot be a substitute for the police.”

She said the lack of uniformed police on the streets means that officers are often pulled from their beat to deal with crimes elsewhere.

”If you move people somewhere you are having to take them from somewhere else,” she explained. “There is sensible prioritisation and I have faith in them to work hard and do a good job. But crime is going up.”

Robbery and knife crime went up in 2016/17 by 24pc and 22pc respectively. And Hackney’s community safety partnerships manager Maurice Mason says as it stands things are only going to get worse.

He said: “Say an individual phones through to report a burglary. If they haven’t got CCTV evidence, it will be dealt with on the phone.

“Many crimes, such as theft, won’t be dealt with if the property is under a certain value. What happens if it’s a prolific offender?”

Touching on the cost-cutting plans to potentially close Shoreditch police station, Mr Mason added: “If you’ve got a local problem with anti-social behaviour, you want to go to a local police station and report it to a named, visible officer.

“Where are they going to be working from? Is it going to be Stoke Newington police station if you live in Shoreditch?”

The council wants the government to increase the police grant so the front line can be protected. The grant makes up about two thirds of their overall budget.

It is also asking that London receives a fair amount of the National and International Police Grant, which is given to capital cities for policing national events such as state visits.

And last but by no means least it will be demanding that no more cuts are made to the Met. The funding formula is currently being reviewed and could spell even deeper cuts.

The letter to Ms Rudd will also be sent to Philip Hammond in a bid to influence his autumn statement.

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