Tory mayoral candidate and Harrow Councillor Susan Hall clashed with Sadiq Khan’s policing deputy on Thursday, in a row over public trust in the Met Police.
Ms Hall told Sophie Linden – deputy mayor for policing and crime – that confidence in the force had “absolutely plummeted” since Mr Khan’s election in 2016.
Ms Linden said falling trust in police is “a problem nationally”, and that Mr Khan’s administration was making progress in reforming the Met.
Speaking at a meeting of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee, Ms Hall pointed to City Hall’s latest public attitudes survey.
It found that just 48 per cent of Londoners believed the police “do a good job in the local area” – the lowest since City Hall took over responsibility for conducting the survey in 2014.
Ms Hall said it was “dreadful”, before challenging Ms Linden on the fact that the figure was significantly higher under Mr Khan’s Conservative predecessor, Boris Johnson.
In March 2016 – two months prior to Mr Khan’s election – the figure was 68 per cent. It remained relatively steady until December 2017, after which point it began to decline.
But Ms Linden argued that Ms Hall was failing to acknowledge a national context.
She said: “If you look at the Crime Survey of England and Wales, the trust and confidence in the Metropolitan Police is very much in the average of other forces. So forces like Greater Manchester Police and West Midlands Police are very similar in trust and confidence.
“You cannot say that since the mayor took over that this is the reason trust and confidence has fallen.
“There is a problem nationally with policing, and there is a problem in London – and we are doing all we can to work with the Commissioner [Sir Mark Rowley] and the Metropolitan Police, to fix that problem and reform the Met, so that Londoners have the service they deserve.”
Ms Hall pressed Ms Linden on the fact that efforts so far appear not to have succeeded in improving confidence in the force, with the figure instead “dropping like a stone”.
Ms Linden replied: “The mayor has invested in the Metropolitan Police as much as he possibly can. There are 1,300 additional officers on the streets in order to be able to improve the visibility of police officers.
“He has also ensured that there is a new leadership team within the Metropolitan Police, that accepts the extent of the problem, and now has a ‘New Met for London’ plan, which is going to tackle that problem. I have confidence that it will make a difference.”
She later added that the mayor’s actions will “in time” lead to an improvement in trust and confidence.
Ms Hall went on to suggest that deteriorating confidence had been caused by a rise in crimes – with significant increases in both sexual offences and violent crime seen in London over the last seven years.
This led Ms Linden to interject, saying: “We all know that one of the major problems around sexual offences is that people do not – particularly women – have the confidence to come forward and report [sexual offences].
“So whilst it obviously is concerning that numbers are rising, we also need to realise that we want an increase in reporting sexual offences.”
She added: “I think you’ll find that since 2016, homicide is down, burglary is down, gun crime is down, knife crime with injury for under-25s is down.
“We can carry on throwing the statistics around, but I do think you should be really careful about talking about an increase in reporting sexual offences as a problem.”
Ms Hall, who will go up against Labour’s Mr Khan in the mayoral election on May 2, 2024, has said that policing is her “passion” and has adopted the slogan “Safer with Susan”.
Earlier this week, Ms Hall was criticised for saying that some in London’s Jewish community are “frightened… because of the divisive attitudes of Sadiq Khan”.
It led the Board of Deputies of British Jews to issue a statement, saying that Mr Khan has treated Jewish people “thoughout his tenure… with friendship and respect”.
They added: “We hope to co-host the key Mayoral candidates at a 2024 Jewish hustings, where it will be clear that while London Jews may have varying political views, there is no fear present at all.”