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Deputy Commissioner responds to Mayor's statement on officer numbers

Blog post   •   Oct 30, 2017 11:17 GMT

[Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey]

"The Mayor has spoken out today about the impact that increased costs and operational pressures, coupled with a lack of additional funding, will have on the Met's officer numbers - highlighting that the Met could be down to 27,500 officers by 2021.

"This is a stark prospect for all of us. We are faced with some very difficult challenges, choices and pressures. We are not going to stop fighting our corner for making sure we have the resources we need to keep London safe.

"The Commissioner has been clear - she is very worried about the challenges we face, and has said so a number of times. She has been vocal, even mentioning the need for a secure funding settlement, and its direct links to the security of London, in media interviews during her trip to the US last week. I said earlier this year we will start having to reduce officer numbers to balance the books. Before that the previous Commissioner, Lord Hogan-Howe, said that the "warning lights" of rising crime were flashing and spoke of the increasing need to prioritise what we do.

"It will always be our duty to do the best we can with whatever money local and national politicians decide to allocate to policing. We will always make the case to politicians when our professional judgment is that the budgets proposed will have a dramatic effect on the services offered. We have been working with all of our partners and political leaders in the Home Office and City Hall, constructively setting out the evidence and our arguments for how a lack of funding could impact London - but also how we could better protect London if more funding is available. Much of that discussion with politicians is rightly in private and not visible, but it is frank and continuing.

"We are arguing for a better funding settlement, being clear on the severe consequences for London of continued real terms reductions in funding. And at the same time, I think you will all understand that we also have to plan for different scenarios, including one in which our funding does not go up. Putting our heads in the sand and just hoping for the best is not an option.

"If we do face a scenario of 27,500 officers by 2021, we will have to reduce or stop some things. We will have to concentrate on crimes which cause the most harm to people. We could become less proactive, with Prevention work in schools and neighbourhoods suffering, as the resources we have, focus on meeting response demand. We may have to scale back our response - both on the phone and on the ground to concentrate on the biggest emergencies. And we will have to look again at some of our specialisms - can we really afford them when we can't afford what many rightly see as basic policing? What should we investigate and how thoroughly?

"Nobody is going to invest in us if we are not as efficient and effective as we can be. We would be pushing hard to do this, regardless of the need to make savings. We must continue to challenge ourselves, and deliver better performance, history show us our performance hasn't always been better when we have had more resources. But there is a limit to how much we can save without impacting the front line. In the face of rising demand and rising costs the current flat-cash settlement we have quite simply buys less and less policing with each and every year that passes.

"We also know the savings we have made are having an impact on our officers and staff - especially when they are combined with the demands of the major incidents we have had to deal with this year. We all joined policing to help other people and we will continue to do so as much as we possibly can. When I see the amazing things officers and staff do every day for London I feel incredibly proud and humble. London rightly has a national and international reputation for some of the best policing in the world that is down to the work you do on a daily basis, thank you.

"As the funding debate develops we will ensure that you have the latest information as we begin to look at the size and shape of policing in London for the next four years."