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banner Monday, 10 April, 2000, 21:57 GMT 22:57 UK
Dobson heckled at police meeting
Frank Dobson
Frank Dobson: Supports calls for improved police pay
Labour mayoral candidate Frank Dobson has been heckled by police officers at a meeting on police pay.

Mr Dobson was forced to halt his speech as he set out his plans for policing in the capital.

The interruption came despite the former health secretary supporting calls for increased pay at the special meeting.

Officers among the 2,500 audience started a slow hand-clap as Mr Dobson was speaking.

Earlier Mr Dobson had received applause as he called for improved allowances for police officers.

The meeting was attended by the leading candidates for London mayor, with Mr Dobson joined by independent Ken Livingstone, Liberal Democrat Susan Kramer and Tory Steve Norris.

Living costs

Mr Livingstone wants the police to reflect London's ethnic population, while Mr Norris says he would monitor daily crime figures as mayor.

Ms Kramer wants to see local police stations reopened.

Sir John Stevens
Sir John Stevens during his New York visit

Police leaders say the pay gap between officers in London and other professions is to blame for a recruiting crisis faced by the Metropolitan force.

They want an extra 4,425 a year to meet the extra living costs in the capital after losing 1,000 officers in the last three years.

The new mayor of London, who will be elected on 4 May, will be able to set targets for the police service.

And he or she will have the power to appoint the majority of the city's police authority.

'No secret'

And Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir John Stevens, who has been in New York examining the way the police work with the city's mayor, says he will hold the mayoral candidates to their word on police numbers.

He said: "We will be asking for more resources, there is no secret about that.

"All of the potential mayors have promised more police officers, and I welcome that because we need more police officers."

Sir John said New York had a third more police officers than London, to police a city with the same population level.

And the Police Federation says only two officers are recruited for every three officers who leave the force in London.

'Pie in the sky'

Glen Smyth, of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: "I have this message to the candidates.

"You can make all the plans you like for the future of London policing but without sufficient officers those plans will be but pie in the sky."

  • Tory leader William Hague has said independent London mayor candidate Ken Livingstone would be "lethal for London".

    Mr Hague dismissed Labour's Frank Dobson as a man "forced to run for a job he definitely didn't want in a city that most certainly doesn't want him".

    Speaking at a Tory fundraising dinner in London, Mr Hague threw his weight behind Conservative candidate Steve Norris and focused his attack on Mr Livingstone.

    He said the choice in the election would be "between a left-winger whose political posturing brought London to its knees and a former minister with the track record of delivering on actions not politics."

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