The Metropolitan police is facing a budget gap of £232m, a reduction in front line officers and the loss of two of its main advisors.
The force needs to make savings of £769m by 2015 in line with budget cuts, but a report from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) shows that it’s only identified where 70% of those will come from. The Met made significant budget savings before 2010 and is struggling to further tighten its belt, leading to fears that the staff budget will have to be reduced. And that’s on top of confirmed reductions by 2015 of 1,410 fewer officers, 1,230 fewer PCSOs and 640 fewer civilian staff members.
HMIC says the number of total staff on London’s front line will reduce from 37,170 in March 2010 to 35,520 by March 2015. You’ll probably hear politicians say that the proportion of police on the front line will increase by 2013, which is true – the proportion will rise from 81% to 82% – but that’s a proportion of a reduced workforce, and the actual numbers will go from 27,070 front line officers to 26,250. This is despite Boris Johnson’s election pledge to not cut police.
On top of all this, at the very point when police are about to face a huge challenge with the Olympics and new boss Stephen Greenhalgh still getting up to speed with the job, the top two advisers in the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime have left. Catherine Crawford and Jane Harwood have stepped down without a handover period or even time to say goodbye to colleagues, which would imply an unceremonious booting out. Evening Standard politics reporter Pippa Crerar has heard they left because Greenhalgh felt the need for ‘new faces’, but the timing leaves the body without anyone experienced in charge.