Police officer numbers in London to fall below 32,000 again

Police officer numbers in London to fall below 32,000 again

The Metropolitan Police will miss its target of 32,000 officers next year for the fifth year running, the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) Budget and Performance Committee has found.

Both the MPS and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) insist the target is still in place but have not specified how they intend to meet it in the future.

Describing the force’s savings targets as “highly optimistic”, the GLA called on MOPAC to finally set a goal more in line with operational needs.

It also pointed out that mayor Sadiq Khan could do more to support the MPS by moving money from other parts of his budget.

Committee chair Gareth Bacon said the MPS and MOPAC “need to be realistic” over officer numbers going forward.

A spokesperson added: “We have branded the 32,000 target as problematic in the past. We maintain this view… the target has become too politicised and one that political figures debate frequently but has little relevance to operational needs.

“Police officer numbers should become an operational decision.”

Seventy per cent of the MPS’s £3.27 billion budget comes from Home Office grants and 20 per cent is provided by MOPAC.

The force has already taken £600 million out of its budget but will have to find another £443 million by 2020/21 just to maintain its current position.

The MPS has accepted that it will struggle to deliver its Policing and Crime Plan and Commissioner Cressida Dick has warned that some services will have to be reduced.

It suggested it could meet some of this requirement by selling more properties and driving more IT efficiencies – but must still find more than £185 million even if its plans work out exactly as intended.

The GLA report, published on Tuesday (October 10), added that the MPS has not yet delivered the savings that it has already promised and needs to take further action.

The strategic target of 32,000 officers was set by former mayor Boris Johnson in an attempt to ensure the MPS did not meet budget cuts by deliberately thinning the front line.

However, the last time the MPS had more than 32,000 officers was in July 2012 and it will miss the target again next year as £38 million has been removed from its police officer budget.

Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey has indicated that the force is now modelling for 30,000 officers and this level may reduce further.

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