Mayor’s crime funding cut causing ‘deep unease’
Published: Friday 7th April 17
The council’s community safety spokesman has warned that programmes across the borough that keep residents safe could be put at risk after the Mayor decided to cut funding for crime prevention measures by 51 per cent.
The Mayor has announced that from next year his funding for crime prevention work in Wandsworth will be more than halved. The 51 per cent reduction, which equates to around £350,000 will apply to local projects from 2018 onwards.
The announcement coincides with his proposal to cut the number of borough police commanders, which critics argue will make senior local police officers much more remote from the communities they serve and make it harder for them to stay on top of local issues.
Currently Wandsworth, along with all of London’s 32 boroughs, has a chief superintendant who is in charge of all local policing matters and is able to respond quickly to local concerns.
Under the Mayor’s new system, this officer will be split four ways and shared between Wandsworth, Merton, Kingston and Richmond.
None of London’s other boroughs are being formed into a cluster of four. Across the capital only two or three boroughs are being joined together, prompting questions as to why Wandsworth and its three neighbours are being treated differently.
Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “This is a double whammy from the Mayor that is causing really deep unease. The loss of 51 per cent of our crime prevention budget is frankly a recipe for disaster. That combined with a new management structure which will make senior officers more distant and less able to concentrate on important local issues is a big mistake.
“Everyone agrees that when it comes to criminal offending, prevention is much better than cure. It is far better to nip problems in the bud and stop crimes happening in the first place than see more people become victims.
“And unlike anywhere else in London the chief superintendant in charge of all day-to-day policing matters, will be serving four different boroughs each with their own needs and priorities and their vey distinct local, problems. This single officer will be responsible for meeting the policing needs of getting on for 900,000 Londoners.
“If the Mayor is serious about tackling crime and protecting local communities he should rethink this swingeing budget cut and abandon his plans to stretch borough commanders this thin on the ground.”
Existing crime prevention programmes that could now be scaled back in Wandsworth as a result of the Mayor’s funding decision include:
- Integrated Offender management scheme to reduce reoffending
- Young people’s substance misuse service
- The Family Recovery Project
- Neighbourhood problem solving
- Community payback schemes
- Anti-burglary initiative
The council will seek to limit the impact on residents by looking at new sources of funding and other efficiencies to continue all these services, along with continuing to support local efforts to tackle teenage gangs and domestic violence.
Cllr Cook added: “Wandsworth has an enviable record as inner London’s safest borough, but that success has not been achieved by accident. It is the result of very hard work across all the agencies but in large part is a reflection of the work we have done to prevent crime and because we have been able to maintain a close dialogue with our borough commander to make sure they understand local priorities and local concerns.
“A 51 per cent cut in funding is simply not a credible proposal for a large inner London borough and risks undoing all the good work that has been done so far.”