We need Met on the streets, says Norris

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Indy Politics

Steve Norris yesterday attacked the Metropolitan Police for failing to respond to the fears of ordinary Londoners and he pledged a New York-style drive to put hundreds more officers on the beat to crack down on petty crime.

And he lambasted the Mayor, Ken Livingstone for lacking the political will to drive "yobs" from the streets.

Mr Norris won loud applause after telling delegates that only a tiny fraction of the uniformed police in each London borough were available to patrol the streets. He promised to follow the example of the former Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, who cut crime with a policy of "zero tolerance".

He condemned Mr Livingstone's "feeble and pathetic protestations" that he lacks power to cut crime in the capital, insisting he merely lacked the political will.

Mr Norris said: "In every one of the London boroughs, on the Metropolitan Police's own figures, there are, on average, 600 officers, uniformed officers. How many will be out patrolling any one of those boroughs tonight? Ten, if you're lucky.

"Somewhere in there is a complete misapprehension as to what it is that the law-abiding community demands from its police service."

Mr Norris said he had seen a teenage girl smashing up a telephone box in London "because she didn't give a damn". He said: "She knew that no one was going to be there and no one was going to stop her. Because she knew if you clipped her round the ear you'd be in court and if she clipped you, you'd probably be in hospital."

He added: "Every one of us in the hall admires Metropolitan Police officers and supports them in the difficult and tough job they do, [but] we want to make sure the service is managed so it responds to the needs of the citizen.

"I make no apology for talking about this issue because as I said at the outset if you live in our towns and cities, what people care about is overwhelmingly is security and feeling safe in their homes.

Mr Norris praised Mr Giuliani's efforts to cut crime, declaring: "If it can be done in New York, it can be done in London. A mayor can change the perception of a city where people fear living in their own community and make it a city where people feel more safe."

He said: "I will strain every sinew to make sure that four years on from my mayoralty, London is a safer place for every citizen."

Mr Norris also warned that unless the party won in the cities, "the Conservatives are never going to win in the country". London, he said, "desperately ... deserves better than Livingstone". But to win support the party must show it could listen to the concerns of those in cities and respond to them.