What would American cities look like if police were defunded?

July 04, 2020

The common sense answer is: American cities would likely become more violent.

The equation is a simple one: Defund the police, and they’ll have a smaller budget to work with. A smaller budget to work with, would almost guarantee a hiring freeze or layoffs. A hiring freeze or layoffs would translate to a shortage of staff, which will make it impossible for the police force to keep up with the demands of a growing population.

Officers would become overwhelmed by the volume of crime incidents. Cases would inevitably take longer to solve, or never be solved at all.  

Criminals, particularly drug dealers and gangs, will take advantage of the shortage and grow their criminal operations.

The fewer cops around, the more opportunities for crime.

How do we know this?

Because such was the case in London, England. About a decade ago, government officials took aggressive measures to defund the police with budget cuts.

One of the biggest proponents for defunding the police was then Home Secretary Theresa May, who would later become the Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party from 2016 to 2019.

In 2010, May was warned by the Police Federation that budget cuts would result in 40,000 officers being removed from the streets of England and Wales. They said her actions would make it a “Christmas for criminals,” a claim she dismissed.

May continued pushing her defunding agenda amid criticism from opponents and eventually succeeded.

In London, the total number of police officers in 2010 was 33,367. By 2019 it dropped to 31,175 (that’s 2,192 fewer officers than in 2010).

Meanwhile, during that same 9-year span, London’s population grew by nearly 1 million people, from 8.003 million to 8.982 million.

In other words, London’s police force decreased by about 5 percent, while the city’s population grew by about 12 percent.

As of July 2020, London’s population is at 9.3 million.

Yet back in 2015, the BBC published an article warning that “Some police forces ‘too inefficient to cope with more cuts.’”

By 2017, Metropolitan Police Commissioner pleaded with the government to give “Give us more resources.” May assured them that they were already “well resourced.” 

Even London’s mayor Sadiq Khan admitted that police cuts hit his city harder than other parts of the UK.

May’s policies ultimately led to the predictable. When looking at the overall crime statistics in London from 2013 to 2019, every crime category increased substantially, by as much as 85 percent in some cases.

Source: The Behavioral Insights Team

According to a more recent article published by The Guardian, London has reached a 10-year high for the number of homicides as of the end of 2019.

Even more damaging, is the fact that fewer crimes have been solved and fewer criminals have been charged as a result.  In fact, the proportion of crimes resulting in a charge or summons stood at 15 percent in 2015, compared to only 7.8 percent by 2019.

Source: The Guardian 

Source: Finder.com

In 2019, Boris Johnson replaced Theresa May as UK’s prime minister, and since then there’s been a lot of talk about reversing years of police cutback policies

Johnson has vowed to make the streets safer by adding 20,000 police officers in England and in Wales, which some thought was still too low.

Several months ago, London Mayor Sadiq Khan finally had his budget approved to fund the police. He was “keen to honour his commitment to fund 1,000 additional police officers.”

Khan’s rival, mayor candidate Shaun Bailey, recognized that “crime is out of control” in London and was planning to hire an additional 4,631 officers if he’d win the 2021 election.

So what all of this tells us, is that defunding the police has been a miserable failure for the UK, particularly England’s capital. And it appears that government officials have realized this the hard way. 

Interestingly enough, many members of the press are now trying to change the tune, arguing that defunding the police is “not nonsense.”

With the media’s influence and current trends, it would not be a surprise if these same politicians who currently favor funding the police, suddenly change their stance to appease the anti-police mob.