Among the many achievements of Boris Johnson as Mayor of London is increasing the number of Special Constables. The numbers are already up to nearly 3,000 and the funding has been made available for training 10,000. Labour have claimed that the number of police officers is going to come down. This is not the case in any meaningful sense as the number of front line police officers will be increased. Operation Herald will mean that civilians will take on more police work releasing an extra 550 police officers for the front line. This means that overall there will be more police officers involved in policing – which is what counts.
Furthermore the Labour claims of fewer police also ignore those figures for Special Constables. Kit Malthouse made this point at the Mayor of London's Budget Questions Time this week atthe London Assembly. 42 minutes in on the webcast Kit Malthouse asks about: "The many thousand of volunteer men and women who act as volunteer Special Constables would feel disappointed they they are ignored by those who criticise the Mayor on police numbers. They provide devoted and very efficient service especially on Friday and Saturday night. The overall number of people carrying a warrant card is going to rise very considerably. By ignoring Specials you do both them and London a disservice."
John Biggs, a Labour Member of the London Assembly and also a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority made some sneering reference comparing Special Constables to members of the WI. Boris Johnson, usual jovial on these occasions. "It is unbelievable for them to make derogatory comments about people who are putting their lives at risk and serving London," said Boris.
Kit Malthouse, the new MPA Chairman, was also angry: "They are out there putting their lives on the line. They are out there in a stab vest. You aren't, John."
Special Constables are real police officers. They have the same powers and wear the same uniform as regular officers. They work without pay, fighting crime for a minimum of 25 hours a month. Supporting them should not be a party political issue. Mr Biggs fellow Labour London Assembly Member and MPA member Jennette Arnold has made the sensible proposal that TfL should provide Special Constables travelling in uniform free travel.
But John Biggs belittling of Special Constables, for which he has refused to apologise, is a disgrace. He should resign from the MPA.