But Boris Johnson doesn't even know they're happening
At Mayor’s Question Time today, Boris Johnson claimed not to have heard about the planned cuts to London’s Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). As the Assembly’s Police and Crime chair Joanne McCartney succinctly put it:
“You’re the Chair of MOPAC. That is astonishing.”
The Met is considering scrapping all 1,000 PCSO roles in London neighbourhoods, a move Labour have called ‘the nail in the coffin’ for neighbourhood policing. Today McCartney also revealed that new figures provided by the PCS Union have shown the plans would disproportionately hit BME representation in the Met.
The new data reveal that 34 per cent of neighbourhood PCSOs in London come from BME backgrounds compared with only around 12 per cent of police officers. In some boroughs the percentage is even higher; in Waltham Forest for example, 61 per cent of PCSOs are from BME backgrounds, as well as 50 per cent in Kensington and Chelsea.
The Met has made progress in improving recruitment of BME officers across the force – it now has three-and-a-half times more BME officers than in 1999. But the planned cuts will clearly be a huge step backwards, and have a negative impact on the Met’s target to create a force which reflects the community it serves.
A decision on the future of PCSOs is due to be taken at the Met’s Management Board meeting on 29 September. The options are either to remove all PCSOs, or to retain just 629 posts. Boris Johnson proved today that he has not even begun to assess the impact the cuts would have on police-community relations.
Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward
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