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Mayor warns Met Police is ‘chronically underfunded’

Sadiq Khan has warned that the Met Police is “chronically underfunded”, as he urged the Home Office to boost the force’s finances.

In a letter to home secretary James Cleverly, the mayor said London “faces unique pressures as a capital city”, highlighted by the challenge of policing the protests over the conflict in Gaza and Israel.

A Home Office spokeswoman insisted that the Government is giving all police forces “the resources they need to tackle crime”.

A Government source said the Met is still the highest funded force per capita in England and Wales “by a considerable margin”.

But Mr Khan pointed out that an independent expert review conducted for the Home Office in 2015 identified a £159m annual gap in Met Police funding, at 2015 prices. Recent estimates by the Met suggest the gap could now be £240m, the mayor added.

Met commissioner Sir Mark Rowley told the London Policing Board on Wednesday that the force had become severely “bent out of shape” in recent weeks. He said that since October 7, over 28,000 officer shifts have been devoted to protests and vigils – and he suggested that weekend neighbourhood policing had been typically reduced by two thirds due to staff being re-deployed.

Mr Khan told the home secretary: “London’s communities directly suffer from the operational requirement on the Commissioner to prioritise under-funded capital city duties.

“As well as impacting the policing of the city, the demand on our police officers is impacting their welfare. The MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] has cancelled nearly 4,000 rest days and for each public order event, the same officers are being deployed.

“Many officers have worked every weekend since October and sickness rates are rising, a trend which is likely to continue.”

The mayor added: “There are additional pressures caused by the JSO [Just Stop Oil] protests and various sporting events in recent weeks and continuing over the next period as well.”

Responding, a Home Office spokeswoman said: “We are giving the police the resources they need to tackle crime, and through our police recruitment campaign we have more police officers in England and Wales than ever.

“The Metropolitan Police will receive up to £3.3 billion in 2023/24, an increase of up to £102.3 million on the previous year. This includes £185.3 million in recognition of the increased demands the force faces from policing the capital city.

“We have also provided an additional £75.3 million of in-year funding to support the force in managing the costs associated with the 2023/24 pay award.”