Yesterday the Mayor was making a song and dance about police numbers in his budget speech, and the Prime Minister immediately contradicted him.
The Mayor claims 10,000 extra officers in London under his tenure. He is of course counting PCSOs as the equivalent of PCs whereas as even our dissimulating PM will not go that far. The Mayor also does a bit of erroneous rounding.
Yesterday dismal Andrew Dismore, Labour MP for Hendon asked this patsy question of the PM at Prime Minister’s Questions:
Will my right hon. Friend personally congratulate Chief Superintendent Steve Kavanagh, his officers and police community support officers, and especially the safer neighbourhoods teams on their achievement in cutting crime in Barnet by 8.6 per cent. so far this year, on top of 16 per cent. last year, with 24.6 per cent. in total? That is one of the best records in the Met. With 5,600 extra officers and 3,700 PCSOs in London provided by the Mayor, what does my right hon. Friend think the result will be of the cuts in the budget proposed by the Tory candidate for London Mayor?
Note that Andrew Dismore shows his ignorance of basic maths – you multiply percentage in this case not add them.
The PM answered as follows:
In the London area alone, there are 6,000 more police than there were in 1997. As my hon. Friend rightly said, in graphic detail, crime is down in his constituency. The choice in London will be between an administration that wants to employ more police and wants to get crime down, and what the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Johnson) has said, which is that he wishes to cut spending on the Metropolitan police. That would be disastrous for the police, disastrous for London and bad for the whole country.
This response caused Boris Johnson to lose his rag – quite right too. Read about it here.
So, the PM says 6,000, Dismore says 9,300 and the Mayor says 10,000. The rounding issue is important, if Dismore’s numbers are right, because the Mayor is talking about adding 1,000 officers next year. If he does we will then have 10,300 officer next year but the Mayor is already claiming 10,000 when in reality we have 9,000 extra – if you round like a normal person. It seems that the Mayor’s maths is as bad as Dismore’s.
I did some work back in April and looked at how things has changed in the period 88/89 to 06/07, see previous posting. This showed an increase of 4,600 policemen and 2,100 PCSOs in this period.
It was instructive to compare this rise in police numbers with the rise in police revenue spending and the GLA precept.
The graph above shows how police numbers had gone up 25% since 1998/99. 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 only have 25% more police and 2,100 of those are cheaper PCSOs.
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