The Mayor’s mission is to make London the safest big city on earth. The Mayor's Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) has set the Metropolitan Police Service the challenge to cut key neighbourhood crimes by 20%, boost public confidence by 20% and cut costs by 20%. Quite simply, the MOPAC 20/20/20 challenge requires the Met to do more with less. London's first ever Police and Crime Plan 2013-16 has outlined our plan to deliver the Mayor's mission.
Since Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe’s appointment as Commissioner, the Met have made impressive progress – crime is down 6% in the last year alone and serious youth violence has been cut by almost a third. However the budget challenge is unprecedented. Never before has the Met needed to make such large savings – £500 million by 2016. Until now, every Commissioner of the Metropolis has had more resources every year.
Unlike other elected Police & Crime Commissioners around the country (mostly Labour ones), Boris has chosen not to hike the police precept and load more cost on to council taxpayers. In addition the Mayor’s manifesto had a clear pledge to keep officer numbers high – at or around 32,000 – because those numbers are what is needed to keep a growing capital safe. Raising taxes or slashing police numbers are not options open to MOPAC to balance the books. Nor is another exceptional hand-out from the Home Office likely to be forthcoming.
Instead we are putting bobbies before buildings. Buildings do not catch burglars, police officers do. Today MOPAC and the Met are publishing our Estate Strategy which explains how we plan to release underutilised buildings. We have already announced that the we are selling the New Scotland Yard building in Victoria Street. Now we are unveiling the new location for Scotland Yard for the first time. This is to be a smaller HQ in Whitehall which is nearer to the birthplace of modern policing.
I learned from my time as Hammersmith & Fulham Council leader that cutting costs is as easy as A, B, C. The "A" stands for asset management. Selling off underutilised buildings means that we can afford to put more bobbies on the streets of London. Cutting the Met's property running costs by £60 million pays for the 1,200 extra police officers that we are putting into boroughs over the next 3 years. In addition these property disposals should generate at least £300 million that will be ploughed back into the remaining buildings and infrastructure so that a run down, largely Victorian police estate is fit for the 21st century.