We must fight this Conservative assault on neighbourhood policing – Sadiq Khan

Labour’s candidate for mayor of London on the important role UNISON members have to play in the forthcoming elections

Across the country people will be voting in a matter of weeks for local Police and Crime Commissioners who decide the priorities for policing in their area (in London this is the mayor’s job).  

At the same time, London is at a crossroads. Millions of people will be going to the polls to decide the future of this great city. As both the London mayoral candidate and as member of UNISON, which represents so many police and justice staff across the country, I know how vitally important these elections are for the future of crime prevention and policing in our country.

There is a huge amount at stake in this mayoral election – the future of neighbourhood policing is in doubt because of government cuts, particularly to PCSO numbers. Londoners are being priced out of their own city by the Tory housing crisis and the rising cost of commuting, and the younger generation is missing out on the opportunities that London gave me and my family. This is not good enough and we need to take action now.  If we don’t, it could be too late. 

My main priority as mayor will be solving the Tory housing crisis. I will ensure 50% of new homes in London are truly affordable and I will take action on rents so that Londoners can actually afford to live in our city. I will freeze transport fares for four years and work to ensure as many people as possible can be paid the London Living Wage. 

As a member of UNISON I take great pride in the tireless work that unions like ours do to stop workers from being exploited. It is through their work, in partnership with the Labour Party, that we have secured things such as the right to maternity pay and the right to paid holiday. The Conservatives want to erode these rights and stop workers from being able to do their jobs properly.

UNISON members have an important role to play in the forthcoming elections. You don’t have to be an activist to make a difference. Every day you see first-hand the damage the Conservatives are doing to our country and to our police services – tell the people you know about it, and how they can fight it by voting Labour.

The Conservatives are not standing up for working people – their deep cuts to public services are a risk to our communities.

The Conservatives promised to protect the police but over 18,000 officers and 5,000 community support officers have already been lost nationally and further deep cuts in funding threaten even more losses to frontline officer numbers. This poses a serious threat to the Bobbies who keep our streets safe just as violent crime is on the rise.

In London alone we have lost 2,490 full-time equivalent PCSOs since 2008. How is neighbourhood policing supposed to survive this level of cuts?

Crime detection rates are falling across London. It is PCSOs and other uniformed police officers on the beat who build up relationships with their community, increase trust, and develop the intelligence networks that are vital for solving crimes. These relationships are especially important at a time when people feel at heightened risk from extremism. 

Labour will stand up for you and our communities to keep them safe. We oppose the Conservative cuts which would hit frontline officers. Labour councils and Police and Crime Commissioners will work with police and local people to prioritise neighbourhood policing, keep Bobbies on the beat and reduce crime.

The PCC elections, and in London, the mayoral elections, are an opportunity to send a message to the Conservatives opposing their cuts to the police and the risk they pose to neighbourhood policing.

Sadiq Khan is Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London