Dismore questions Mayor over pressures on Met. Police due to Government underfunding
Mayor predicts police numbers will fall below 30,000 in next 12 months
At today’s Mayor’s Question Time, London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden and Fire Authority member Andrew Dismore AM questioned Mayor Sadiq Khan over the increasing pressures faced by the Met, as crime rises and officer numbers fall due to Government underfunding.
Compared to a year ago (Aug 16 to Aug 17) the number of police officers has fallen by 941 officers 2.99%, from 31,453 to 30,512 while crime has increased by 5.6%overall (Oct to Sept 17). At the same time, the Conservative Government is refusing to reconsider their funding for the Met, which means that a further £400 million in cuts have to be made, on top of the £600 million so far. (See data below in notes) (See videos here and here)
The Mayor in his replies to Mr Dismore predicted that officer numbers would fall below 30,.000 in the next 12 months unless the Government ended their cuts
Mr Dismore asked the Mayor:
‘Recent major incidents in the capital have imposed unprecedented demands on the Met, requiring redeployment of officers into the response to, and investigation of, these incidents from their usual duties, including from Borough Basic Command Units as well as specialist units. What is your assessment of the impact of this demand on the day in, day out policing needs of Londoners?
‘The Met is currently facing these demands due to the Grenfell Tower investigation, the six thwarted terrorist attempts and four terrorist attacks in London that occurred between March 2017 to the September 2017 and the rise in crime, 999 calls, and a number of other specialist investigations.
‘There have been suggestions that you should reconsider your target to have a Met. of around 32,000 officers, in light of the dire funding shortage the Conservative Government is inflicting on the Met. Already, we have seen a fall of 941 officers since last year to 30,513 while overall crime is up 5.6%
‘Is this further cut in numbers something you are considering; and what would the impact be on the ability of the Met to respond with even fewer officers to these almost unprecedented multiple pressures whilst also trying to maintain an adequate service in the boroughs to keep Londoners safe?
‘When officers are switched to these specialist investigations they are not new officers but officers from other teams asked to do longer shifts and to cancel rest days. We know that the Met extend 8 hour shifts into 12 hour shifts to deal with the increased demand and former officers have said that 12 hours are routinely being extended into 16 hours.
‘Do you think that it is fair to ask officers to do such challenging hours? Do you think the Government understand the scale of the problem their lack of funding for the police is causing?
‘Could I also ask you about the detective shortage in the Met which has been a problem for some time?
In the Summer, it was reported that the Met was recruiting an initial 80 trainee detective constables with full police powers, who have never worked as uniformed officers, to fill some of the then 600 detective vacancies.
‘Assistant Commissioner Gallan apparently wrote to every detective due to retire this year and asked them to stay on as the force was short of 748 detectives.
‘An employment agency is reported as having set up its own office within Scotland Yard, charging the Met hundreds of thousands of pounds to re-hire 77 detectives who have just retired on their full pension.
‘And there are reports of stressed detectives, being bombarded with 20 cases at once, quitting the role to go back into uniform.
‘This is all pretty serious, so can you say by how many detectives the Met is currently short; what are the barriers to filling the vacancies, and what progress is being made in recruiting detectives to fill these vacancies?’
The Mayor said that we are seeing the changing nature of crime, with large investigations, an increase in sexual and domestic violence, acid attacks and moped crime. We have had year on year cuts since 2012, £600 million so far and £400 million more. The police pay rise, unless it is funded, will mean more additional costs. His priority is to keep London safe, and to mitigate the cuts. He has increased the precept, but the Government must do its bit. We have seen a cut of 20% in police funding per head of population in London, the worst in the country.
In New York, a population of 8.6 million is served by 36,000 officers; in London, a population of 8.8 million is served by just over 30,000.
Unless the Government do a “u” turn on the cuts, we will go below 30,000 in the next 12 months.
Police officers rightly cannot be made redundant, so this impacts on recruitment. If there is no prospect of reaching the target in the foreseeable future, then what is the point of recruiting?
The President of the Superintendents Association, Ch Supt Thomas has suggested we are headed for a ‘perfect storm’.
The detective shortage is a national issue. The Deputy Commissioner is asking retired detectives to provide more coaching and training, including for civilian detectives. There is a shortage in London. One of the benefits of the Borough Command Unit mergers is to free up detectives to deal with more complex cases.