Boris Johnson – 2009 Speech on Making London Safer

Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson, the then Mayor of London, on 27 March 2009.

What did you want to be when you were a child? Was it something, by any chance, that involved wearing an impressive uniform? Did you marvel at the shiny buttons on Fireman Sam’s uniform, or wonder what it would be like to possess the natural authority that came with wearing Postman Pat’s hat?

I for one trembled at the sight of a policeman, convinced I was doing wrong by my mere presence. When the terror in a tall hat passed, I would secretly yearn for the power that man possessed.

Most people I know had childhood aspirations of becoming such authority figures with shiny buttons. Yet as we grow up, and we discover that a profession is worth doing for more than the sartorial standards it keeps, we choose different paths.

However, there are some who keep the dream alive- ultimately for reasons of high public spirit. If they don’t go on to become fully fledged coppers, then they volunteer and become Special Constables – of which there are currently over two and a half thousand in London.

Today, I was in Harrow to announce that we’ve secured the funding to train and recruit 10,000 Specials by 2012. They have the same powers and responsibilities as police officers. They can still say “‘ello ‘ello, what’s going on here then?” The only difference is that they are unpaid volunteers, working 8 hours a fortnight. So I’m calling on Londoners to reconnect with their childhood ambitions, to release that pent up desire to do good and step forward. You can still do your day job, and have the opportunity to be part of policing the Olympic Games too.

When I was elected, one of my main promises was to get to grips with crime. This new initiative will see the addition of thousands of new, dedicated police officers to the streets of our city. We’re also continuing with the roll out of the new police teams to patrol bus ‘hubs’. I launched another one in Harrow this morning.

These teams consist of nine officers and they are attached to an area with a high concentration of buses, typically a town centre with a bus station. By later this year, we will have 29 such teams across London. Their specific remit is to provide a highly visible presence on buses to deter the kind of low level disorder that has been prevalent over the last few years.

We’ve also seen over 5,000 knives lifted from the streets of London through the sensitive use of stop and search powers. New police officers are also stepping up their patrols at suburban railway stations.

So that’s what I am doing to honour my promise. My ambition is, by 2012, to have made public transport feel safer, got more police officers out on the streets and made youth violence an extreme rarity. You can help me achieve that by signing up to become a special constable.