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Police lead public services in call to reverse austerity

THE METROPOLITAN POLICE have asked the Government for more funds to cover the extra commitment to dealing with terrorist attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire which it has had to provide in recent weeks.

The Met is also keeping up increased numbers of patrols around places of worship, especially mosques, in an attempt to ward off hate crime and reassure faith communities. This increased level of police activity is taking place against the background of a rise in violent crime, especially gun crime, across the capital – as well as a continuing high level of knife crime and violence between groups of young people.

The scale of the cuts borne by the capital’s police service is huge: it has lost £600 million of funding in the last four years and had been told it would lose a further £400 million in the next four years. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has estimated that another 12,800 police jobs could go in the next four years – despite the huge workload that officers are carrying. Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Blair told BBC Radio that if all the cuts go ahead, London’s police force will end up only one quarter the size of what it was when he left office in 2008.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick revealed that she was asking the Government to look at police funding again, given how stretched the Met has been in recent weeks – a fairly clear message. The Home Office confirmed, in an official response, that it was “undertaking a period of detailed engagement with policing partners and relevant experts” – leaving no one any the wiser.

The police are the first of the leading public services to raise the funding question with the Government since the General Election. The election campaign saw a raging public debate between the pro-austerity Conservatives, who promised more and more cuts in public services and increased privatisation, and the anti-austerity Labour Party, which promised to reverse the privatisation strategy and invest in public services.

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