Cuts to the Met will put "immense pressure" on remaining officers
The Met had little choice but to slash its number of borough units, according to Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons.
The force is cutting 1,600 officers from local policing due to government cuts and rearranging its 32 borough structure into 12 large command units.
DAC Simmons told Police Oracle that a £73 million annual saving from the move is expected.
"It's from a mix of things, part of it is taking out some of the management costs, part of it is the overall reduction in police officer numbers. 1,580 fewer in local policing, of whom about 500 are managers and supervisors.
"We can't afford the same number of police officers so the numbers are coming down already so this enables us to save the service level and service delivery.
"Principally the merger saves us in the number of police officers while saving the things we need to prioritise: neighbourhood policing, safeguarding activity, working with young people, but operating at a larger scale so we're more flexible and more efficient," he said.
It was put to him that cutting numbers would save money without restructuring, but he said the change will help manage the drop.
"Doing emergency response in 32 boroughs is not the most efficient way to deal with calls. Having 32 sets of detectives dealing with things like forensic dockets, there's no need to have 32 different sets of people doing that," he said.
"Of course this is something most of the rest of the country has had to do far ahead of the Met."
But Met Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh told PoliceOracle.com he is unconvinced.
"It's going to put immense pressure on my colleagues. With number cut further I don't know how they will deal with what's in front of them," he said.
Some 496 supervisors – from sergeant to chief superintendent – will be done away with as the year-long restructure is completed. Those not retiring or leaving the force will be placed in other roles.
It is an aim to cut a number of senior posts as part of its money-saving plans too, though the decision to do away with the ranks of chief inspector and commander was reversed last year.
Asked if the pathfinder trials in five boroughs served a purpose or if the entire restructure was inevitable from when it was announced, the chief officer insisted they had been important.
"In the early days, particularly on the emergency response times, some things did not go well.
"We had to make some substantial changes on things like using the radio channels, how the computer system that deals with the receipt and dispatch of calls worked, in order to make sure we were confident we could get the set-up right.
"That was the whole point of the test, the test was not a foregone conclusion. It was in order to make sure the work we'd done was right and it was to make sure we could get it right in the real world," he said.
"Reducing number of police officers was something that was always going to have to change - the test was to see how that looked. We've learnt some really important lessons from doing it, some of which have been quite painful."
Among those were a botched attempt to do away with the chief inspector role in the boroughs, a move which was swiftly reversed.
He said that after adapting and working with unions and the Police Federation on numerous issues, response times in the trial boroughs have improved.
But DAC Simmons conceded the tests are not identical comparisons, with more non-emergency calls now being dealt with online and on the phone, though he insists that the 999 emergency calls have a better response now than before the pathfinders began.
Met Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh said: "They are working because they pumped more resources into them, but the [effects of] long term pressures I don't think are going to make for good reading.
"The governments need to understand that to get the police service we need you've got to put the money into it."
DAC Simmons said: "The workloads for response officers did increase [but] we're confident now that the workloads are manageable."
See the original story in PoliceOracle.com here https://www.policeoracle.com/news/police_finance/2018/Feb/12/dac--borough-mergers-happening-because-we-can-t-afford-officer-numbers_96997.html