Councillors have clashed over how best to tackle violent crime and antisocial behaviour in Barnet.

The Labour group called on the Tories at the local and national level to “get a grip” on crime and community safety, while the Conservatives claimed council officers were already doing enough and urged Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to take more action.

The row came at a meeting of the full council on Tuesday, July 27. Labour’s Cllr Sara Conway called on the relevant council committees to consider what more could be done to support the police and improve community safety in response to what she called “a spate of violent crime and antisocial behaviour”.

Labour leader Cllr Barry Rawlings backed her motion, accusing the Conservative government of cutting police funding by £1.6 billion since 2010. At a local level, he claimed the Tories were failing to invest in CCTV, the community safety team, enforcement team and support services.

The Labour Party would set up a £283 million fund to tackle anti-social behaviour, paid for by scrapping plans for a new royal yacht, he claimed.

Cllr Rawlings said Labour wanted to do “all we can to oppose violent crime and antisocial behaviour”, while the Tories wanted to “find someone else to blame to cover up their inertia and incompetence”. 

But Cllr Jennifer Grocock, the Conservative councillor who chairs the safer communities partnership board, said: “We have tragically seen four stabbings in the last few months, and yet while Labour mayor Sadiq Khan sits inflating his PR budget, Barnet’s residents are left paying more per police officer than the residents of any neighbouring borough.”

Cllr Grocock said the council was carrying out a review of its CCTV cameras, had introduced park guards and patrols, hired three fly-tipping crews and was supporting the Metropolitan Police.

She called on councillors to support her amendment urging Sadiq Khan “to keep Barnet residents safe by robustly tackling violent crime and giving our borough its fair share of police officers”.

The Tories’ Cllr David Longstaff claimed Metropolitan Police officer numbers had increased since 2016, but murders had risen by 50 per cent in London during the same period. He added: “What have Labour and the GLA done about it? Absolutely nothing.”

Cllr Longstaff claimed none of Labour’s £283 million fund to tackle antisocial behaviour would come to Barnet. “The only thing Barnet contributes is the taxes to pay for it,” he said.

Cllr Rawlings said police numbers had risen because Sadiq Khan had introduced a council tax precept to make up for the government funding cuts. Tory councillors had voted against a match-funding deal from the Mayor of London that would have increased officer numbers in Barnet, he claimed.

Tory councillors voted against Cllr Rawlings’ amended motion before backing Cllr Grocock’s amendment calling on Sadiq Khan to do more. Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors voted against.