More tax for more police? Crime campaigner suggests funding referendum
'This is just a start to try to shift the current impasse, which sees more and more victims every day'
09 February, 2019 — By Samantha Booth
WOULD you pay more council tax if it meant extra funding for the Met Police? Up to 50 per cent more?
That’s the question a Hampstead campaigner is hoping she can get Mayor Sadiq Khan to ask Londoners in a referendum.
Jessica Learmond-Criqui, who chairs Frognal and Fitzjohns Safer Neighbourhood Panel, said: “Violent crime is at an all-time high. The Met is unable to investigate crimes properly, closing many cases as soon as they are open. They are losing officers faster than they can recruit. Crime, including cyber-crime, is out of control and our fundamental right as citizens to be protected by our government is breached.”
She added: “While the government won’t change its strategy properly to fund the Met, the Mayor can do more by asking Londoners to pay more through a referendum. They may say no, but it is our only hope at this point.”
It could cost the Mayor up to £10m to hold the referendum, which is needed for a tax increase above 9 per cent.
Ms Learmond-Criqui has launched a petition calling for a referendum. It has to gain 250 signatures before it is submitted to the Mayor, who can reject the plea. She said it would take a 126 per cent rise in council tax to put the Met back into a position of having £1billion funding.
She added: “The petition mentions ‘up to 50 per cent’ increase in council tax, but Mayor Khan has to consider, perhaps through focus groups, what additional sums Londoners may be willing to pay, if anything at all. This is just a start to try to shift the current impasse, which sees more and more victims every day, angry at the lack of justice and protection and who, before long, may take justice and protection into their own hands. That leads to anarchy, which many would not want for our society today.”
London Assembly member for Camden Andrew Dismore has agreed to present the petition to the Mayor as part of the “democratic process”.
But he added: “I personally would not support a 50 per cent rise in council tax nor do I think it’s sensible to spend £10m on a referendum doomed to fail. The government should be providing more funding to the Met.”
A spokesman for the Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime said: “The Mayor is using all the powers he has to keep Londoners safe by raising his share of council tax by the maximum amount allowed by the government for the second year running, in order to increase the number of officers on our streets. More than 70 per cent of Met funding is controlled by the government, yet ministers have repeatedly refused to reverse the £850m of savings they have forced on the Met. Sadiq is concerned that, if the government continues to shift the burden of police funding from government grant to council tax, it will hit the poorest hardest. The government should stop shirking its responsibilities and understand that cuts have consequences.”
Sadiq Khan with Camden Council leader Georgia Gould
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Met police funding will increase by £172million next year if the Mayor of London increases council tax precept by £2 a month for a typical (Band D) household. “he police funding settlement provides the most substantial police funding increase since 2010, and will help police forces to meet the financial pressures they face next year, while also providing additional money for recruitment and neighbourhood policing, counter-terrorism, and fighting serious and organised crime. Decisions about frontline policing and how resources are best deployed in London are for the Met Commissioner and the Mayor of London.”