Shaun Bailey arrived in Bexley borough today making police station cuts a big plank of his campaign.
Unfortunately this is the borough where a number of police stations were closed while the Conservatives were in power both at City Hall and Westminster.
Firstly Thamesmead shut in 2010. Belvedere followed in 2013 alongside Sidcup in 2013. One is now a Prezzo and the other demolished.
With police seeing cuts from the Home Office, London’s Met was reorganised into “Basic Command Units” with police in each borough merged. Bexley borough police merged with Greenwich – where Woolwich was shut in 2014 alongside Westcombe Park in 2012. Greenwich followed. All are now housing or demolished.
Bexleyheath was under threat more recently and saved.
Bailey’s claim of 8,000 new police officers doesn’t stack up given most funding for officers comes from the Home Office. To see more officers an area has to agree to steep council tax precept increases – something Khan did and Bailey campaigned against. Large precept rises have been seen the length and breadth of the country as central Government have insisted upon it in return for funds (which provide far less than 8,000 new officers).
As the Home Office state: “Overall funding available to PCCs (Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners) will increase by up to £703 million next year – a 5.4% cash increase on the 2020/21 settlement – if PCCs make full use of their flexibility to increase precept.
If being the operative word. PCC (in London’s case the Mayor) had to raise their precept to receive funds. Bailey opposed it.
Much campaigning in the election has attempted to portray problems as only in London, yet it’s not just London where police numbers have fallen while certain crime increased.
London has actually seen a smaller increase in knife crime than Hertfordshire, Essex and Kent. Knife crime in Kent is more than double levels in 2010 despite a fall in the most recent statistics.
Central Government have stated they will hire 20,000 more police to take totals back to 2010 levels – though the population of the UK has grown by around three million in that time.
Bailey’s twitter account is not know for accuracy. Last year he stated this a mere day after his Conservative party colleague Grant Shapps wrote to TfL insisting on increasing the congestion charge:
Here is an extract in a letter sent from Grant Shapps to TfL imposing these conditions:
That is Shapps requiring the “immediate reintroduction” of the congestion charge and to “widen the scope of these charges”.
Little with his campaign seems to match reality.