'Hundreds of millions of pounds' needed to stop drop in Met officer numbers
Officer numbers in the Metropolitan police will fall to their lowest level since 2002 unless hundreds of millions of pounds in new funding can be secured, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said.
The Guardian is reporting that a new forecast by the mayor’s office for policing and crime (Mopac), says the Met still has to find £325m in saving because of Government cuts.
The force currently has just under 29,700 officers but the forecast projects that by 2022, further planned cuts will take Met officer numbers down to 26,800, for a population of more than 9 million people.
When Met officer numbers were last that low in 2002, London’s population was 7 million.
The forecast does not take into account any increase in funding that may be announced next week when the Government announces a financial settlement for policing, The Guardian says.
Local government could be allowed to raise council tax further to fund the police and there may be some extra national Government funding but even then estimates show that would leave the capital with just 27,500
Forces having to pay more toward pensions for their officers will cost the Met over £100m a year, again hitting officer numbers.
Since 2010, Mopac says London has lost 3,000 police officers, another 3,000 police community support officers and 5,000 civilian staff.
The Met has made £850m in savings, including selling its headquarters and moving into a smaller building.
The new Mopac forecast assumes any savings would be made purely by cuts to officer numbers.
Sadiq Khan said: “The causes of violent crime are extremely complex, but there is no doubt it has been made far worse by huge Government cuts to the police and youth services.
“Even the Home Secretary has finally admitted that the Met won’t be able to tackle violent crime without more funding from the Government.
“Now we urgently need to see action to avoid officer numbers falling even further. I’m genuinely concerned about how we keep Londoners safe with officer numbers as low as 26,800,” he added.
“Ministers need to reverse the £1bn savings forced on the Met and reverse their cuts on youth services and other preventative services so that we can keep our city safe.”
Mr Khan is due to meet the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid this week to discuss police funding, with the announcement from the Treasury about any extra money for the police expected on Thursday.
London’s population is forecast to hit 10 million by 2030.
Until 2010, police numbers were broadly stable at around the 30,000 mark or just above.
In 2010 it had 33,367 officers for a population of 8,054,000, meaning it had 4.1 police officers per thousand people.
Now it has 29,654 officers for a population of 9 million, or 3.3 officers per thousand people, and the number of officers is forecast to fall, despite a rising population and hundreds of thousands of visitors to the capital every year.