Before May, when the Conservatives were in control of Kingston Council, they had paid for extra police under the previous London Mayor’s BOGOF (Buy one get one free) offer. This meant they paid for 6 police officers, using Kingston taxpayers’ money, and got 12.
They set aside £450k of the Council’s budget to pay for this.
In the Conservatives’ 2018 budget (set in February before the election) they did NOT put in an extension to this funding. The funding therefore expired on 31st March 2018. Kingston Lib Dems pointed this out to them at the budget meetings.
It was clearly their decision not to continue with extra officers.
As part of a petition, against their own decision, they have included a video which states they put aside the money for renewing in reserves as part of their budget earlier this year.
They did not set up any specific reserve to renew the extra officers, and they did not put the funding in the budget for spending in this financial year. The budgeted money finished on 31st March 2018, over a month before they lost at the election.
If you haven’t stopped reading by now or are confused by their attempt at political point scoring, there is a few more issues to clarify.
At the time the Conservatives introduced these additional officers to our Borough, Liberal Democrats on Kingston Council believed that our residents should not be paying twice for police - once through the GLA element and again though RBK element of council tax. This is not fair.
Alongside this issue, the idea was that the police officers paid for under the BOGOF deal were dedicated to Kingston town centre so that district centres didn’t lose officers to the centre - the reality (from working police officers in borough), says that was not the case.
To confuse matters further, towards the end of May the Met Police in our area moved from a borough structure to Basic Command Unit (BCU) merging Kingston, Richmond, Merton and Wandsworth forces.
We are still assessing what this has meant for our police numbers across our Borough.
Kingston Liberal Democrats are immensely proud that Kingston continues to be London’s safest borough.
Since we took control of Kingston Council, we have not cut any police budgets or changed any police reserves. We have worked closely with the police, and will continue to do so, to ensure that Kingston Borough continues to be a safe borough.