The London Assembly's Labour, Lib Dem and Green members embarrassed themselves rather badly yesterday at the budget debate.
It was well known that the Mayor had to cut the budget to the Metropolitan Police Authority by about £185 million, and because the Left cannot understand that it is possible to make significant cuts to budgets without making huge cuts in front line services they assumed this would mean big cuts in police officer numbers. It didn't.
At the MPA we have been working hard to reduce bureaucracy and waste, I've pushed the Met on issues such as the levels of police officers unavailable for active duty and the cost and staff numbers tied up generating the thousands of pages of almost useless guidelines. The Met have revolutionised their recruitment processes, taken a pragmatic look at the use of buildings and equipment and Kit Malthouse has used his experience as an accountant to crawl all over the Met's figures. All this means that on top of a massive increase in the Met Special Constabulary, the number of full-time warrented police officers in the Met will increase despite the reduction in funding.
The figures are simple in April 2008, the month before Boris took office, full-time police numbers in London stood at 31,398 in the financial year 2010-2011 the figure will be 32,510 (an increase of 1,112). Even when laid out on paper the Left can't understand it, Caroline Pidgeon of the Lib Dems once again echoed Ken Livingstone's attack line saying that this was all "smoke and mirrors".
The most embarrassing thing about yesterday's exchanges was that the Left had clearly written their speeches and their motions attacking the cuts in police numbers before the Mayor's announcement and delivered them regardless. There is something quite surreal about watching people criticise cuts in police numbers that aren't happening.
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