Boris Johnson attacked on neighbourhood policing

Conservative London mayoral candidate Boris Johnson has insisted he will not change neighbourhood policing teams after pressure from Labour.

Comments in the Local Government Chronicle newspaper from the Tories’ leader on the London Assembly, Richard Barnes, had suggested the Conservatives may consider cutting neighbourhood policing in the capital’s safest areas.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith jumped on the quotes, claiming they showed Mr Johnson’s “secret plan to scrap neighbourhood policing”.

“How many of the extra police introduced by Labour and Ken Livingstone does he plan to axe?” she asked.

“How many Londoners would see fewer police on their local streets as a result of these cuts to safer neighbourhood teams?”

Mr Johnson responded by backtracking on Mr Barnes’ comments, insisting they “do not reflect my policy on policing whatsoever”.

He said he had no plans to change the operation of safer neighbourhood teams and made clear he would keep at least six officers in every ward in London during his mayoralty.

“By contrast, under Ken Livingstone and Labour the time the police spend out on the beat has been declining for years; which is nothing to be proud of,” he added.

“I will change that by using my leadership of the Metropolitan Police Authority to drive down the bureaucratic burden.”

Ms Smith defended the incumbent mayor’s record in office, however, pointing out he had introduced neighbourhood policing teams to every area of London.

She added: “Now we hear that all this hard work is under threat from Boris Johnson’s plans.

“The truth is that Boris Johnson is a risk to our safety – a risk that Londoners can’t afford to take.”