Seriously. An FOI request (PDF), published in December but attracting a load of stunned faces yesterday, reveals that in 2009-2010 the Met spent £18,401.65 on calling the speaking clock, and another £16,879.30 in 2010-11. For context, the starting salary of a police constable is around £22k-26k plus up to £6.5k London weighting. The force spent half a constable a year on finding out the time.
This provoked a number of reactions in Londonist Towers. Firstly: the speaking clock's still going? Apparently so. Dialling 123 from a BT landline will cost 31p for a recording of someone saying the time and three pips. Second: has nobody in the police ever heard of a watch?
The FOI, evidently anticipating all the WTF-ing, states
It must be remembered however that a huge number of our officers and staff will not have direct access to the internet as they are not office-based. There are clearly evidential and operational reasons for officers and staff requiring the exact time and contact details.
The 'contact details' reference is because the Met also spent a total of £216,813.80 over the same period on calls to directory enquiries.
On the other hand, at least we now know what happens when a policeman wants to know the time.