As the worst rioting in more than three decades engulfs urban Britain for a fourth consecutive day, the Mayor of London is pleading with the government not to cut police officers jobs as mandated by the recent spending review.
Boris Johnson told a radio station that government ministers need to take “another look” at proposals to reduce police budgets, and that officers should “get on and do what they signed up to do.”
“If you ask me whether I think there is a case for cutting police budgets in the light of these events then my answer would be no,” he said.
“I think that case was always been pretty frail and it’s been substantially weakened. If you look at the position in London, obviously we’ve been able to make significant savings, we’ve been able to move money around and expand numbers. But if you look at what’s happening in Birmingham and Manchester and elsewhere; very troubling scenes.”
Johnson added: “This is not a time to think about making substantial cuts in police numbers.”
However, the government appears determined to cut thousands of police jobs over the next few years as part of its comprehensive plan to reduce spending and get a handle on the deficit.
Johnson further added that authorities, including the police, need a freer hand in maintaining civil order and discipline.
“Let’s face it, what’s happened in our city [London] and in our country in the last three or four days has been a massive own goal,” he said.
“Here in London you had people behaving with a complete lack of restraint and a complete lack of respect for the police. It was chilling. The lesson is that over 20, 30 years we’ve got into a situation where we have allowed people an endless sense of entitlement. Give adults and give teachers back the right to impose authority.”
Johnson further stated: “I would like the benefit of the doubt to be in favor of adults and those who are in positions of authority.”
Meanwhile, some London police officers admit that they simply can’t cope with the sheer scale of the present disorders.
Six-thousand street officers from Scotland were massively outnumbered by tens of thousands of youths who have fanned across London to loot stores and set fire to cars and buildings.
In some cases, threatened shopkeepers and property-owners have taken the law and their security into their own hands.