Growing levels of gang activity and violent crime has forced Hackney Council to launch a campaign asking for the return of 100 police officers to the area.
The local authority has called on Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy Mayor of Policing and Crime and Bernard Hogan-Howe, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, to reallocate officers after figures show that “for the first time in many years” violent offences and the fear of crime is rising within the borough.
Comparing April to June this year with the same period in 2014, crime statistics show a 10 per cent increase in violence with injury, 30 per cent increase in criminal damage, a 17 per cent increase in robbery and a 46 per cent increase in muggings.
Over the past five years the Met Police has taken a total of 170 officers from Hackney, with the area down to around 600 officers from 770 in 2010.
A council spokesperson said that because of the loss of officers, the borough has had to abandon Operation Bantam, “which for over a decade had been a critical element of the borough’s strong record of reducing gang violence.”
While the area used to have 40 police officers dedicated to gangs, this now stands at just six.
With Tower Hamlets at 16 per cent fewer officers since 2010, Newham at three per cent and Waltham at 10 per cent more, a council spokesperson said that Hackney’s 22 per cent cut is by far the largest when compared to equivalent boroughs.
Councillor Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor of Hackney Council, said: “Hackney has a great record on reducing crime over the past decade and overall this is still the trend. However, the increase in violence and theft we’ve seen over the past year is a real concern. We know people and businesses are increasingly worried,” she said.
The council has called Hackney’s decrease in officers “disproportionate, misguided and counter-productive”, saying the rationale behind the Met’s cut is “based solely on a one-year snapshot of demand taken from 2010/2011.”
In the Mayor of London’s Police and Crime plan 2013-2016, it was recommended that Hackney should have 685 officers, according to a council spokesperson.
Linden said: “We appreciate the Met needs to make savings, but the formula it used to allocate officers short-changed Hackney at the time and a lot has changed since then. It needs to change its strategy for Hackney, before these short-term increases become a long-term slide putting residents at risk.”
The council is urging residents to show their support by signing the change.org petition.