Police numbers ‘at crisis point’: Campaign for 100 officers after devastating cuts
- Credit: Archant
More police are urgently needed to tackle growing levels of crime in the borough – including gang activity and violence – Hackney Council has said. It has this week launched a campaign – backed by the Gazette – to get more officers back on the borough’s streets.
More police are urgently needed to tackle growing levels of crime in the borough – including gang activity and violence – Hackney Council has said.
It has this week launched a campaign – backed by the Gazette – to get more officers back on the borough’s streets.
It follows the deaths last month of 17-year-old teenager Marcel Addai who was stabbed by a gang in Hoxton and Moses Fadairo who was shot in broad daylight in Chatsworth Road.
The council wants to see 100 police officers returned to Hackney’s streets, after swinging cuts have seen a 22 per cent reduction in numbers, down to just 597 from 770 five years ago.
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While Hackney used to have a team of 40 officers dealing exclusively with gangs, there are now just six. Operation Bantam – a critical element of the borough’s record of reducing gang crime for over a decade – has now been disbanded.
Hackney Council claims the formula used by the Met to calculate how many police are needed in the borough is out-of-date, misguided, and needs to be revised because it is putting residents’ safety at risk.
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The Met’s decision cut the police force in the borough was based on a one-year snapshot including crime figures taken from 2010/11, when the fight against crime was proving successful in Hackney.
The downward trend since 2002 until that point, had been made possible thanks to a strong and effective collaboration between the council and police on projects like the integrated gangs unit (IGU) – and the council now feels it has effectively “shot itself in the foot”.
Furthermore, the Met’s rigid formulas to calculate how many officers are needed “doubly disadvantage” Hackney, because the booming night time economy in Shoreditch, which sees thousands of drunken revellers descend on the borough every weekend, is not taken into account.
Latest crime figures show that although crime fell in Hackney by 35 per cent between 2002 and 2014, the positive trend is now starting to buck – with muggings up by 50 per cent, for example. In 2011 burglary figures were well below average, and Hackney’s performance was the best in the country in terms of comparable boroughs – but now figures have peaked above average.
A petition directed to Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh, and Met Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, states: “A lot has changed in Hackney, and the Met’s stance of doggedly sticking to its strategy is putting our residents’ safety at risk. The ramifications of this have been only too clear to read in news story after news story over the past 12 months.
“For the first time in many years, crime, particularly violent offences, and the fear of crime is now rising in our borough. While we appreciate the need for the Met to make savings, we believe its reduction in Hackney is excessive, disproportionate and counter-productive, and risks undermining our long-term downward trend of crime.”
Cllr Sophie Linden told the Gazette, which has backed the campaign: “We have lost 170 police officers, we believe we have been short changed by a formula that was not fair to Hackney.We have seen very long term reduction in crime and good partnership working with the police, and we are concerned that is being put at risk.”
Hackney has been hardest hit compared to equivalent boroughs, as figures show police in Tower Hamlets were cut by 16 per cent since 2010, in Newham by three per cent, while Waltham Forest has seen an increase of 10 per cent.
To add to the impact, Hackney has seen PCSOs cut from 100 to 37 – and the Met is now consulting whether to axe every single PCSO across London.
A spokesman for the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime said: “There is always more to be done to tackle crime across the capital, which is why the Mayor is making the case to the Home Office for the right level of funding in the upcoming comprehensive spending review.”
To view the petition go to www.chn.ge/1jcLa7C.