I’ll treble number of local police to beat crime in London, says Rory Stewart

Ross Lydall
Former Tory MP Rory Stewart speaks in Seven Kings, where three people died after being stabbed: PA

Rory Stewart has pledged to treble the number of community police on the streets to crack down on London’s violent crime epidemic.

The independent candidate for Mayor would double the number of officers to six in each of the capital’s 629 policing wards, and create “surge teams” to send to hotspots in emergencies.

This would mean an extra 2,350 officers being deployed full-time on neighbourhood policing, addressing concerns that ward teams have been “hollowed out” to staff centralised taskforces.

The pledge to prioritise street crime comes as his polling revealed that 74 per cent of Londoners believe crime is “out of control” and 84 per cent of parents worry about their children being out on their own after dark.

Met Police officers in London (Anthony Devlin/PA )

Mr Stewart told the Standard: “If you are serious about dealing with violent crime, you have to have that network of officers on the streets and the resources to be able to prevent it happening in the first place.”

The Populus poll of 1,025 Londoners found 76 per cent agreeing that they were more worried about crime than when Sadiq Khan became mayor four years ago.

More than half — 56 per cent — thought the police were less responsive, while 83 per cent wanted more neighbourhood police in their area.

Rory Stewart has pledged to treble the number of community police on the streets (REUTERS)

The findings echo research by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime showing falling satisfaction with the Met, among victims and Londoners more generally, in the last two years.

Mr Stewart today unveiled details of his “Operation Local” as part of an ambition to increase the Met’s strength to 38,000 officers, 7,000 more than at present.

He has vowed, if elected as Mayor, to resign if he does not cut violent crime in two years.

The Met hopes to receive 6,000 new officers from the 20,000 promised for England and Wales by the Government over the next three years.

On patrol: Police in London (Alex Lentati / Evening Standard)

The Met is due to recruit the first 1,369 by September — although the Home Office has so far only funded the first 500. An extra 1,000 officers are already in place after Mr Khan increased council tax bills to raise £59 million.

Mr Stewart would effectively redirect the extra police recruited by Mr Khan and those due to be funded by the Government.

He said the extra 2,350 officers would triple the number currently being deployed full time in community policing.

He said he took it on good faith that it would honour its pledge to finance the extra officers.

But he said he was prepared to increase his share of the council tax to help fund the Met if required.

The Met has been forced to make £850 million of savings since 2010, sending officer numbers below 30,000 last year as crime soared.

Rory Stewart (AFP/Getty Images)

Mr Stewart, a former Tory minister, said: “There is no doubt that the Met police was cut too far. You can see that in the fact I’m campaigning to bring back more officers. It’s a recognition of the fact we lost too many officers.”

There are currently two constables and one PCSO (police community support officer) in every ward. Mr Stewart would add a sergeant, a constable and a PCSO to each team. Former officers would be brought back to train recruits.

Mr Stewart would also triple the number of special constables to 5,000 and undertake the specials’ training himself to enable him to patrol twice a month with frontline officers.

He said: “Safety, and the escalating levels of violent crime, are the number one concerns of Londoners.

"As Mayor I will grip this crisis immediately, and take action by reinstating the foundational elements of good community policing.

“The police do an incredible job, but too often they have been diverted to centralised taskforces and specialist units, and the relationship between local police and local people is lost.

"This is the first part of my plan to address the unacceptable levels of crime in London that have been allowed to spiral out of control.”

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