Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pressure Grows on Mayor over 'More Police on Streets' Claim

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pressure Grows on Mayor over 'More Police on Streets' Claim

Article excerpt

Byline: Pippa Crerar , Justin Davenport

BORIS JOHNSON came under pressure today over his claims that police numbers in London are rising, amid a growing row over spin.

The Mayor was urged by members of the Metropolitan Police Authority to explain how officer levels had gone up when official figures suggested they were falling. Crime and policing will be key issues in next year's mayoral election with Mr Johnson's record picked over by Labour rival Ken Livingstone.

John Biggs, Labour deputy leader in London, was gagged during yesterday's City Hall budget hearing after disputed the Mayor's claims, accusing him of being a "disgraceful, lazy" liar.

The row centres on two sets of figures -- the number of officers budgeted for and the number actually on the streets -- and their use by Mr Johnson and his opponents.

The Mayor's Office is confident that numbers will have gone up by the end of his four-year term next May. The Met is to begin recruiting again next month -- after a nine-month freeze -- when 210 Police Community Support Officers will start training at Hendon. The PCSOs had already applied to join the force when it began the recruitment freeze in 2009.

But MPA member Jenny Jones said ahead of a meeting today: "I just want the Mayor to be open with Londoners about what the cuts mean for their services. He spun a positive story about increasing police numbers which was misleading, and yesterday refused to discuss the specific figures backing up his claim." Mr Biggs added: "The Mayor's assertion about police numbers is a bare-faced lie and it is a disgrace that he keeps repeating it."

Questions remain about whether the force will be at full budgeted strength next year and over future funding.

But a spokesman for the Mayor said: "Boris will oversee an increase in police numbers just as he has overseen a fall in crime across London."

A Police Federation survey has found that almost nine out of 10 people would be worried if police were forced to scale back the service they provide.

It conducted the survey after Home Secretary Theresa May told officers their job was to cut crime "no more, and no less". …

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