'Deep Unease' Over Crime Prevention Cuts in Wandsworth

Mayor accused of reducing funding for local schemes by more than half

Wandsworth council’s community safety spokesman is claiming that residents’ safety is being put at risk by plans by the Mayor to cut funding for crime prevention measures.

The Mayor has announced that from next year his funding for crime prevention work in Wandsworth will be reduced by 51 per cent. The reduction, which equates to around £350,000. will apply to local projects from 2018 onwards. The reduction is the result of a 'needs-based' formula being introduced which means that resources will be diverted to other boroughs.

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.”

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 superintendent 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 Cook added, “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 superintendent in charge of all day-to-day policing matters, will be serving four different boroughs each with their own needs and priorities and their very distinct local, problems. This single officer will be responsible for meeting the policing needs of getting on for 900,000 Londoners.”

Wandsworth Council claim that a number of schemes may need to be scaled back if the initiative goes through including the Young people’s substance misuse service, Community payback schemes and Anti-burglary initiative.

The council say they 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.

Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime said, “Keeping Londoners safe is the Mayor’s first priority, and despite continued pressure on the policing budget, he has maintained local borough funding levels at £72m over the next four years to help prevent crime across the capital. The Mayor’s new Police and Crime Plan puts neighbourhood policing and local priorities at the heart of its work, but some of the most serious and complex challenges we face in policing our capital cannot be solved by one borough alone. A more joined up approach, and targeting money where it is most needed, will help us to support those areas which are struggling and provide much needed services to all Londoners. In Wandsworth, this has enabled us to maintain or increase investment in tackling key issues such as violence against women and girls, knife crime and re-offending, over the next two years.

"We have also increased the number of neighbourhood officers across London, with a second dedicated officer in each ward by the end of this year and the areas of greatest need receiving further support. By working this way, we can help ensure Londoners in every corner of the capital have access to local police and innovative services, and really make a difference to crime levels in our city.”

Overall London Crime Prevention Fund (LCPF) funding remains the same at over a four year period. However, funds will be re-distributed across boroughs to reflect the new needs based model. To ease the transition to this model, no borough will experience a reduction in funding in 2017/18, but 14 boroughs will experience an increase - bringing them in line with the new assessment of local needs and demand. From 2018/19, the full new needs based model will be applied.

April 12, 2017