Relentless London protests creating Met Police funding gap, Sadiq Khan warns

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Met commissioner Sir Mark Rowley Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The Mayor of London has outlined major concerns that a sustained cycle of protests and vigils held in the capital is creating a funding gap for the Metropolitan Police.

In a letter to Home Secretary James Cleverly, Sadiq Khan said the funding gap could now be as high as £240 million, and appealed for more support.

Mr Khan said London faces “unique pressures as a capital city” because of the number of protests, sporting events, cultural festivals and ceremonial events it hosts.

“These additional costs result in reduced resource available for frontline and neighbourhood teams… London’s communities directly suffer,” the mayor said.

The Home Secretary will soon be considering the police funding settlement which sets out grants for police forces in England and Wales.

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

In his letter, he quoted Met police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, who said that since October 7 “more than 28,000 officer shifts have been completed in connection to protests and vigils”.

Eco activist group Just Stop Oil has held repeated “slow marches” in the capital this autumn, while pro-Palestine protests have attracted more than 100,000 demonstrators, requiring more than 1,000 police officers a time.

Last week, Scotland Yard revealed it had spent £19.9 million policing Just Stop Oil alone since the group’s first campaign in October 2022.

The force said time spent on the group roughly equated to about 300 officers per day being taken out of frontline policing across London.

Just Stop Oil activists are detained by police officers during a demonstration in Parliament Square, Westminster Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

In November, the Met began reducing the amount of mental health calls officers attend as part of a new initiative with the NHS.

The scheme introduces a threshold for police response to tackle the amount of time officers are spending on policing mental health.

Additional pressure on the Met is having a detrimental effect on the welfare of its officers, Mr Khan warned.

“The Met has cancelled nearly 4,000 rest days and for each public order event, the same officers are being deployed,” he said.

“Many officers have worked every weekend since October 7 and sickness rates are rising, a trend which is likely to continue.”

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.