The Metropolitan Police is embarking on an era of the most radical reform since it was founded in 1829. There will be a huge shift in spending from buildings to bobbies.
New Scotland Yard will be for sale as the number of buildings is reduced from 497 to 300. Although there will be fewer police stations the police will be more accessible. Rather than shut away in grim buildings they will be at "access points" in libraries and supermarkets, Post Offices and Town Hall foyers. The online service will be improved. However each London borough will retain at least one police station open 24/7.
The number of supervisors and administrators will go down but the number of police officers on the beat will increase. The number in Safer Neighbourhood Teams will increase from 2,000 to 4,600. On top of that there will be more Special Constables. This dramatic increase in police access points and front line policing is to be achieved while reducing costs by half a billion a year. Court delays will be tackled.
All this is rather important to Londoners. There is doubtless more that could be done. What do the police still patrol so often in pairs? Could police spend more time in uniform and less in plain clothes? Could the police do their paperwork in uniform at cafes to increase their visibility and accessibility to the public? Some cafes already provide half price meals to police in uniform and in New York this approach has been a success.
What have the Labour Party go to say on how the plans could be improved? What is there alternative to save half a billion pounds while dramatically improving policing in the capital? But rather than give a constructive response they have resorted to some pretty outrageous personal attacks on the Deputy Mayor for Policing Stephen Greenhalgh.
Last month they demanded that he resign after a woman mentioned to a colleague that he patted her bottom in the City Hall lift . She did not register a complaint about it and neither Mr Greenhalgh nor others in the lift at the time had an recollection of it happening.
Now Andrew Slaughter, the Shadow Justice Secretary and Labour MP for Hammersmith has demanded that Mr Greenhalgh should go. This time it concerns an allegation when Mr Greenhalgh was leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council that he sanctioned "improper inducements" for residens to support estate redevelopment.
The allegation is that residents of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates were offered preference for new housing if they supported the redevelopment. That there would be priority for rehousing on a political basis. No evidence has been produced of anybody making this offer still less of it being sanctioned by Mr Greenhalgh.
At least the allegation indicates that Labour now concede that better local replacement housing would be on offer in the redevelopment. Previously they had claimed that residents would be moved to Barking and Dagenham or given no replacement housing at all. The extreme left have mounted an thoroughly unpleasant campaign on this issue. It has been led by Jonathan Rosenberg, an old henchman of Ken Livingstone. It is Mr Rosenberg who has filed he spurious complain about Mr Greenhalgh.
What will be the pretext for Labour's resignation demand next month? This is not credible, responsible opposition. Just cheap smears and procedural time wasting.
Mr Greenhalgh says:
"I am immensely proud of my record as Hammersmith & Fulham Council Leader. These baseless allegations are politically motivated. I refuse to be distracted from my important role as Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime."
Good for him.