New figures reveal that between 2010 and 2018 the number of police officers in the borough of Tower Hamlets has fallen by an astonishing 217 officers.

This means that the borough had 1 officer for every 525 people in 2018, a considerably lower level than the 1 officer for every 303 people that the borough had in 2010.

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has written to the Home Secretary in light of the new figures to ask when policing levels in Tower Hamlets will be restored to previous levels and to highlight the impact of cuts to police and council budgets:

‘National cuts to police forces have severely diminished their ability to respond to crime and ASB, and although tackling crime is a police responsibility, cuts to local council budgets have also reduced our capacity to support the efforts of the police.’

The letter adds that police cuts are felt acutely in Tower Hamlets, which has the fastest growing population in the country, doubling over the last 30 years and adding a further 67,000 in the next ten years.

Earlier this month (9th October) the Government announced its police officer recruitment targets for every police force in England and Wales for 2020-21. This specifies an additional 1,369 officers for the Metropolitan Police which, when divided by 32 boroughs, would suggest only around 43 extra officers for each London borough depending on how the extra resource is deployed.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “These new figures show the scale of the police cuts in Tower Hamlets and the dramatic decline in the number of officers on our streets. We’ve welcomed the government’s announcement that new police officers will be recruited but we need them now, not at an unspecified date in the future.

“Tower Hamlets Council has invested in new police officers for the borough, but we cannot replace every police officer that the government has scrapped. I look forward to more concrete proposals from the Home Secretary about how they will restore the number of police officers in the borough.”

Councillor Asma Begum, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “We’re working with the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to lobby the government for more money for the police, and as a council we have a multi-million pound agreement with the Met Police to provide additional officers in Tower Hamlets, but using council money to plug gaps in police budgets is unsustainable. We need the government to invest properly in our police and I hope the Home Secretary will clarify when we’ll see additional police officers in Tower Hamlets.”

Full text of the letter sent to the Home Secretary:

Dear Secretary of State,

Between 2010 and 2018, the number of police officers in the borough of Tower Hamlets has fallen by an astonishing 217 officers. To put this in perspective, we had 1 officer for every 303 people in 2010, but this has now fallen to 1 officer for every 525 people in 2018.

This has had an enormous impact in our borough. Our most recent annual residents’ survey showed that crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB) is by far the top personal concern of residents in Tower Hamlets. National cuts to police forces have severely diminished their ability to respond to crime and ASB, and although tackling crime is a police responsibility, cuts to local council budgets have also reduced our capacity to support the efforts of the police.

These police cuts are felt acutely in our borough which has the fastest growing population in the country, doubling over the last 30 years, and adding a further 67,000 in the next ten years.

Recently the government announced that an additional 20,000 police officers would be recruited. This is welcome, but we urgently require more detail about how and when this will happen.

You have also recently announced (9th October) the police officer recruitment targets for every police force in England and Wales for 2020-21. This specifies an additional 1,369 officers for the Metropolitan Police. Again, this is welcome, but a crude calculation shows this would mean around 43 officers for each of the 32 London boroughs – nowhere near the number we have lost over the last decade.

Here in Tower Hamlets, as a council we have a multi-million pound agreement with the Met Police to provide additional officers in Tower Hamlets. We are having to use dwindling council resources to shore up gaps in police budgets caused by national cuts. This is unsustainable and as a council we simply do not have the resources to fill all the gaps your government has created.

Will you please provide us with full details about the 20,000 additional police officers, and when policing levels in Tower Hamlets will be restored to 2010 levels at the very minimum?

Yours Sincerely,

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets

Cllr Asma Begum, Deputy Mayor & Cabinet Member for Community Safety

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