Today both the London Mayor and the Met are welcoming crime statistics which show that London crime is at an eight year low. As they say themselves: “The number of crimes in London is at its lowest level since 1998/99.” In other words crime was lower before we had a London Mayor.
It is indeed a relief to see that crime has blipped down over the last year by 6.3% but today crime is still higher than it was in 1998/99 before the Mayor came to power. The Mayor says: “The Met now has record numbers of police, and a full-strength police team in every single neighbourhood in the capital.” What does this mean and how does the rise in numbers compare with the rise in the GLA precept?
The graph above shows how police numbers have gone up 25% since 1998/99. This must be good news but crime is higher now than it was then and we have 25% more coppers. What are they doing? Of these 2,106 are PCSOs. We might appreciate the role these officers play but they are not as flexible or highly trained as warranted officers so the 25% increase is not all it seems.
Over the same period Police revenue expenditure has gone up by 61%. You might expect this number to be bigger than the increase in officer numbers due to inflation although PCSOs are cheaper which would tend to drive this number down.
The really frightening comparison is with the GLA precept. Up 198%. We pay 3 times more than we did in 1998/99 and yet we are less safe. Doh!
Police numbers 1998/99: 26,563 (link)
Police numbers 2006/07: 31,141 officers and 2,106 PCSOs (link)
Police spending 1998/99: £1,779 million (link – scroll down to Net resource cost of functions)
Police spending 2006/07: £2,863.6 million (link – see table on page 5)
Met Band D precept 1998/99: £70.73
LFCDA Band D precept 1998/99: £26.17
GLA Band D precept 2006/7: £288.61