View from City Hall: Tackling violent crime is top of our priorities

News Desk (29 January, 2020) Columnists

But the Met is feeling the train of huge funding cuts

34310Florence Eshalomi, MP for Vauxhall and Southwark and Lambeth assembly member

This week, the Mayor’s annual budget will come before the London Assembly, setting out City Hall’s spending plans for the year following the Mayoral Election in May, writes Florence Eshalomi…

This comes against the backdrop of the multitude of challenges that London has been put up against due to the impact of a decade of Government cuts.

Unsurprisingly, at the top of the list of City Hall’s priorities is tackling violent crime. This is a national issue that has devastated the lives of too many Londoners and requires a robust response from all fronts across our community.

This Budget and those passed in the last few years, have recognised the importance of early intervention initiatives in preventing violent crime.

Projects launched through the Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund have benefitted a significant number of young people in Southwark and across the capital- helping to provide an alternative and more positive path for those vulnerable to getting caught up in crime.

We have also seen additional investment in City Hall’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), which operates as a public health approach model to address the complex causes of crime at their roots.

Since its launch in 2018, the VRU has been integral in bolstering the work of community groups, schools and the health sector in clamping down on youth and domestic violence.

Robust enforcement is also an imperative part of the solution to violent crime. This is why the Mayor and the Met have called upon the Government to fund the recruitment of 6,000 new police officers for London over the next few years.

Due to continuing targeted investment from City Hall, police numbers are tentatively beginning to recover and there are now over 31,000 officers on the streets of our capital.

However, the Met is still feeling the strain of the huge tranche of cuts that have been imposed upon them by the Government in previous years- totalling almost £1 billion.

It is projected that an additional £480 million of funding is needed for the Met to be able to effectively cope with its financial pressures, but last week, we only saw £200 million of investment pledged by the Government to cover policing in London this year.

Aside from policing, the Mayor is using his Budget to ensure the delivery of the genuinely affordable homes that Londoners desperately need.

Last year, a record-breaking number of affordable homes were started with City Hall’s support, and we are starting to see the benefits of this locally.

However, to truly get to grips with London’s housing crisis, the Greater London Authority has calculated that the capital needs seven times the amount of dedicated funding from the Government than it currently provides.

With expenditure approaching £10 billion, Transport for London (TfL) makes up the lion’s share of the £17 billion Budget.

This covers all major infrastructure projects and schemes- from completing Crossrail, tackling air pollution to investment in the Cycleway 4 highway which, on completion, will run through Tooley Street and Jamaica Road.

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