Agenda item

Non Cabinet Members' Debate

To enable non Cabinet Members to debate an issue of relevance to Brent for which notice has been provided in accordance with Standing Order 34 and to receive reports from Cabinet members on any issues previously raised.

Decision:

The following motion was agreed as an outcome of the non-cabinet member debate:

 

There have been a series of tragic incidents across our borough and capital since the beginning of the year. This escalation in violent crime is a scourge on our borough, and our city. We share the anger of our residents at the trail of destruction these abhorrent acts wreak upon families, friends and our communities.

 

Government funding for the Metropolitan Police has been cut by £700 million since 2010, with a further £325 million of cuts expected over the next three years. This means that there are 2,495 fewer police staff posts and 3,261 fewer support officers keeping our streets safe. London has grown as a city, leaving expenditure per head of the population reduced from £423 in 2012/13 to £337 in 2016/17.  It is the deepest cut nationally at 20 percent, compared to 6 per cent across the country.

 

The average number of Metropolitan Police Officers in the last year of the Labour Government was 33,260. In 2016 it was 31,720 and if cuts to funding from Government are not reversed, it is estimated that number of officers will be below 27,000 by 2021.

 

This Council believes that:

 

Crime is keenly associated with economic deprivation and inequality within communities.  London has the highest levels of income and wealth inequality in the country, exacerbated by years of prolonged austerity.

 

The reduction in police service funding has created a perfect storm for crime, where public services fight to mitigate the social conditions that are driving this surge in violence on our streets.

 

Cuts to police and rehabilitation services are a false economy, and have contributed to a rise in crime since 2014, starting under the previous Mayor.

 

This Council resolves:

 

To press the Government to reconsider their cuts to the Metropolitan Police to ensure that we have a properly resourced police service, with better support for prevention and rehabilitation programmes.

 

If we are to seriously tackle this wave of violence, we need a robustly funded police force equipped to be proactive, and have the correct services to empower communities and stamp out the root causes of crime.

 

To press the government to reconsider their cuts to Brent council so that we can tackle the financial crisis that we are now facing and the growing crisis in adult social care and child protection services.

Minutes:

In accordance with Standing Order 34 the Mayor advised that the subject chosen for the Non Cabinet Member debate had been funding for the police and other services to assist in tackling crime.

 

Members were advised that the motion submitted as the basis for the debate had been circulated with the second supplementary agenda for the meeting and that as part of the changes agreed to the Constitution earlier in the meeting the time now available for the debate was 30 minutes, with any Member wanting to contribute having up to two minutes to speak.

 

The Mayor then invited Councillor Dixon to introduce the motion, who opened the debate by highlighting the recent series of tragic incidents and escalation in violent crime across the borough and capital since the start of the year alongside the impact upon the families and friends of those involved and also in terms of the local communities affected.  In order to tackle these issues, she felt there was a need not only to ensure that the police were properly funded and resourced but also that partners and the local community were empowered to assist in addressing the root causes of crime.  Having attended a recent public meeting on the recent surge in violent crime she had been impressed by the quality of contributions and efforts being made to tackle these issues, especially within schools and was keen to see this type of proactive engagement, preventative and rehabilitation work continue.  It was, however, recognised that this would require strong and properly resourced public services and engagement by local communities as well as a robustly funded police service equipped to take more proactive action, which remained an issue in terms of the reduced level of Government funding being made available.

 

The motion was seconded by Councillor Knight, who felt the issue was a timely one to consider given recent incidents in her ward (Stonebridge) and the reality of the impact on those affected.  Alongside a focus on resourcing of the police, she felt there was also a need to recognise the links between crime and the level of economic deprivation within local communities with specific reference made to the issues within Stonebridge which had one of the highest deprivation rankings both nationally and within Brent and had been made worse by the Government’s ongoing programme of austerity.  As a Council she advised there was, however, a need to recognise the actions being taken to address these issues focussed around housing, education, regeneration and employment attempting to build out crime hotspots and enhance life opportunities through employment and training opportunities.  Whilst of concern, it was not felt that the current surge in violent crime reflected the true and dynamic nature of local communities and the borough as a whole but there was a need to ensure that public services, including the police, were properly resourced and local communities empowered to tackle and mitigate its main causes.

 

The Mayor then opened up the debate to other Members, with the following comments made during the discussion that followed.

 

Councillor Kabir highlighted that many wards across the borough were experiencing similar issues , including Queensbury and whilst supportive of the motion felt it was important to recognise, as one of the positive outcomes, the extent to which these concerns and a desire to help in preventing and tackling these issues had bought local communities together.  She felt the Council and local councillors had a key role to play in supporting these efforts with local councillors also encouraged to proactively facilitate and engage in this activity.

 

Councillor Murray, whilst supporting the concerns raised regarding the need to address funding for the police and public services also was keen to focus on the positive community action being taken locally referring, as an example, to the impact of football sessions he had attended at Willesden Sports Centre.  Alongside funding for the police he felt it was important to ensure support was also provided for these type of community led initiatives, which Councillor Dixon advised she also supported, giving the example to a local boxing club.

 

Councillor Agha also took the opportunity to highlight concerns that had been expressed by local residents within his ward and the action being taken by the local community to address these.  He also supported the motion, pointing out that residents wanted to see a much more visible local police presence for which there was a need to reverse previous cuts and ensure a properly funded police service.

 

Councillor Chan also spoke in support of the motion. Whilst keen to address the significant budget reductions faced by the police he also felt it was important not to forget the various other services and community based facilities such as libraries, youth centre provision and green spaces that also had an important role to play in addressing the problem.  He was therefore keen to ensure that the provision of these services was also defended and supported in terms of opposing any further Government funding cuts.

 

Councillor Stephenson felt it was also important, as part of the debate, to recognise the impact of the budget reductions on British Transport Police highlighting the levels of crime and anti-social behaviour experienced at Sudbury and Harrow Road stations within his ward as a specific example.

 

Councillor Thakkar also took the opportunity to highlight issues within her ward and the efforts being made by local ward councillors, in support of previous comments during the debate, to encourage greater community cohesiveness and engagement with the local community as a way forward.

 

Councillor Colwill concluded the debate by highlighting concerns regarding the impact which he felt the re-tasking of local neighbourhood police resources from his ward to other parts of the borough was having on levels of crime and the ability to respond to these incidents within his area.  He recognised this was linked to the need to prioritise more limited resources but felt the lack of responsiveness was also of concern to local residents.

 

As no other members indicated they wished to speak, the Mayor then invited Councillor Muhammed Butt to sum up and close the debate.  Councillor Butt began by thanking Councillors Dixon and Knight for raising such an important issue, which he advised the Council would be looking to continue challenging the Government on.  Whilst the Council continued to be faced by difficult funding decisions as a result of the Government’s ongoing austerity programme he assured residents that the Administration would be looking to send a clear message to the Government that these were not sustainable.  He recognised that library and youth services had been hit hard as a result of these austerity measures but assured local residents of the Council’s commitment towards defending and protecting local services.  He also highlighted his support for the continued engagement of local communities and wider partners as part of a more localised approach towards addressing the upsurge in crime and advised he was therefore fully supportive of the motion.

 

As an outcome of the debate Members RESOLVED to approve the motion (as set out below):

 

“There have been a series of tragic incidents across our borough and capital since the beginning of the year. This escalation in violent crime is a scourge on our borough, and our city. We share the anger of our residents at the trail of destruction these abhorrent acts wreak upon families, friends and our communities.

 

Government funding for the Metropolitan Police has been cut by £700 million since 2010, with a further £325 million of cuts expected over the next three years. This means that there are 2,495 fewer police staff posts and 3,261 fewer support officers keeping our streets safe. London has grown as a city, leaving expenditure per head of the population reduced from £423 in 2012/13 to £337 in 2016/17.  It is the deepest cut nationally at 20 percent, compared to 6 per cent across the country.

 

The average number of Metropolitan Police Officers in the last year of the Labour Government was 33,260. In 2016 it was 31,720 and if cuts to funding from Government are not reversed, it is estimated that number of officers will be below 27,000 by 2021.

 

This Council believes that:

 

Crime is keenly associated with economic deprivation and inequality within communities.  London has the highest levels of income and wealth inequality in the country, exacerbated by years of prolonged austerity.

 

The reduction in police service funding has created a perfect storm for crime, where public services fight to mitigate the social conditions that are driving this surge in violence on our streets.

 

Cuts to police and rehabilitation services are a false economy, and have contributed to a rise in crime since 2014, starting under the previous Mayor.

 

This Council resolves:

 

To press the Government to reconsider their cuts to the Metropolitan Police to ensure that we have a properly resourced police service, with better support for prevention and rehabilitation programmes.

 

If we are to seriously tackle this wave of violence, we need a robustly funded police force equipped to be proactive, and have the correct services to empower communities and stamp out the root causes of crime.

 

To press the government to reconsider their cuts to Brent council so that we can tackle the financial crisis that we are now facing and the growing crisis in adult social care and child protection services.”

Supporting documents: