Eclectic Blue

Wild West London

Comments Off on Wild West London 06 June 2018

I don’t believe anything I read in the Daily Mail. It’s a filthy, poisonous, right wing journal of hate. Today, I’ll cut them some slack with their front page lead story: “Wild West London: Sixty moped attacks a day, a woman fights for life after mugging and drug crime on the rise as cops hunt for Michael McIntyre gang.” A bit of a mouthful, but, for once, fair comment.

Violent crime, murder and just about every other form of crime is dramatically up in London. There are going to be a number of reasons for this, the drug culture and dramatic cuts to police funding among them, and amazingly the far right Mail acknowledges this, or rather it allows top police officials to state the facts.

Mayor Sadiq Khan has had to deal with cuts to the Metropolitan Police of in excess of £1 billion. On the basis of current estimates, London alone will suffer police cuts by 2021 of circa 27.5k. These are not trifling figures. And it is simply nonsense to suggest the rise in crime and the fall in police numbers are unrelated.

Four years ago, I worked a lot with police officers and every single one of them told me that the fall in numbers was having a dramatic effect. Tory and Lib Dem ministers said that they were merely cutting back office jobs but leaving the frontline alone. This was spin; actually an outright lie. When back office was stripped bare, officers were removed from the frontline to carry out back office functions. And these were not meaningless bureaucracy or bean-counting exercises: it was the preparation of cases to put before the CPS, a hellishly complex and lengthy process, without which no case would ever get court. The Mail, which at the time was trumpeting the cuts to the police, did not actually point out that the back office functions were vital to the work of police officers. It was called “waste” and “trimming the fat” and “cutting through red tape”. It was none of these things.

Unfortunately, as I know from long public service experience, you can either do things properly or you can do them on the cheap. If you do the latter, the consequences are inevitable. Cutting police numbers, tied in with the Cameron/Clegg/May years of austerity, has contributed hugely to the current crime epidemic, so much that the austerity-friendly Mail has been forced to acknowledge, presumably because many of its readers have been affected.

There are no simple answers but ignoring societal problems and underfunding the forces of law and order can’t be helping.

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