Relentless Protests Widen Police Funding Gap to £240 Million, London Mayor Says

According to the mayor, the Met said it has taken over 28,000 officer shifts to police Israel-Hamas war-related protests on top of regular climate protests.
Relentless Protests Widen Police Funding Gap to £240 Million, London Mayor Says
Police detain a person during a pro-Palestine march on Whitehall, organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, in central London, on Dec. 9, 2023. (James Manning/PA Wire)
Lily Zhou

The funding gap for the Metropolitan police could be as high as £240 million with relentless climate and pro-Palestinian protests piling pressure on London’s policing, according to Mayor Sadiq Khan.

In a letter to Home Secretary James Cleverly, Mr. Khan called for more funding to deal with London’s “unique pressures as a capital city.”

“I would like to highlight the current underfunding of the National and International Capital City (NICC) grant,” Mr Khan wrote.

The NICC grant is a special grant given to London because of “the unique and additional activities associated with policing London.”

According to the mayor, the Home Office’s independent expert review in 2015 identified a funding gap of £159 million a year, and the Met’s recent estimates suggest the gap could have grown to £240 million.

Mr. Khan quoted Met police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, who said “more than 28,000 officer shifts have been completed in connection to protests and vigils” since the Israel-Hamas war broke out on Oct. 7.

Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters have attended marches in the past nine weeks, along with some vigils and smaller counter-protests, requiring more than 1,000 officers to be deployed every weekend.

According to Mr. Khan, “the Met has cancelled nearly 4,000 rest days and for each public order event, the same officers are being deployed.”

As a result, “many officers have worked every weekend since [Oct. 7] and sickness rates are rising, a trend which is likely to continue,” he said.

Mr. Khan also mentioned Just Stop Oil (JSO) activists’ slow marches which consumed significant police resources as well.

Undated file photo of London Mayor Sadiq Khan. (Victoria Jones/PA)
Undated file photo of London Mayor Sadiq Khan. (Victoria Jones/PA)

The Met on Thursday said officers made 657 arrests in the past five weeks in relation to JSO’s “attempts to bring the capital to a standstill.”

According to the Met, the five-week operation saw “10,500 officer shifts being taken away from communities,” costing at least £3.5 million, and the total cost to police JSO protests since October 2022 has come to £19.9 million.

The Met told The Epoch Times on Sunday that protests linked to the Israel-Hamas war have cost the force “£12 [million] in the first six weeks alone” while additional cost of policing JSO protests since Oct. 22 is close to £8 million.

The additional policing costs have resulted in “reduced resource available for frontline and neighbourhood teams,” the mayor told the Home Secretary, adding that London’s communities “directly” suffered as a result.

According to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and the Met’s budget submission, there’s a £249.2 million funding gap in 2022/23, including a £62.2 million “structural budget gap” and £187 million needed for recruiting more officers.

The document said the Met has so far received funding for 2,713 officers while it needs a total of 6,000 more recruits.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr. Khan said, “In addition to policing pro-Palestinian protests, in addition to policing Just Stop Oil protests, in addition to policing sporting events, cultural events, the additional pressures on our city with tourists coming and others, we’ve also got to keep our communities safe.”

“We’ve seen a third of officers abstracted from local boroughs and that’s why the Met Commissioner has calculated the shortage in monies from the government is to the tune of £240 million,” he said.

“That’s why I’ve written to the Home Secretary saying, as he allocates the policing formula, he needs to make sure London gets the right amount we’re due as a national and international capital city,” he added.

Just Stop Oil activists are detained by police officers during a demonstration in Parliament Square, Westminster, central London, on Oct. 30, 2023. (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Just Stop Oil activists are detained by police officers during a demonstration in Parliament Square, Westminster, central London, on Oct. 30, 2023. (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Met said in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times in a statement, “Today, we spend 28 [percent] less per capita on the policing of London than a decade ago. Real term cuts over 10 years mean our budget sits 50 [percent] lower than other comparable city forces such as New York and Sydney.”

The gap in NICC funding meant the Met is “currently pulling people and resources” from local policing efforts to the centre and covering the cost of policing protests internally when it should be funded by the NICC,” the statement said.

The Met said there’s also a budget gap of £250 million for the year 2024/25, meaning the force can’t deliver in full its “ambitious programme of reform.”

“Longer term, to close the existing budget gap, deliver the scale of change we all want across the organisation, continue to meet rising demand and effectively police London between now and the end of 2027/28 will cost between £850 [million] and £950 [million],” the Met said.

In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson for the Home Office said it’s “giving the police the resources they need to tackle crime.”

“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,” the spokesperson said.

“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.”

The Met is not the only police force facing financial pressures.

Police Scotland—funding for which is provided by the Scottish government—has warned officer numbers could drop by almost 1,500 and the force could move to a “reduced attendance model” nationwide if it does not receive almost £129 million in extra funding.

PA Media contributed to this report.