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Met: Deputy Mayor Squares Up To Reorganisation

Force will continue to cut costs and consolidate infrastructure to cope with further reductions, says Stephen Greenhalgh

London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing has said he recognises the Metropolitan Police’s unresolved £233 million budget gap identified in the latest HMIC report – but added the inspectorate’s findings on officer numbers confused him.

At a lively session before the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee at City Hall, Stephen Greenhalgh (pictured) said the force was prepared for change and would focus on back office reductions to meet the savings target.

In their report on how forces were coping with cuts, HMIs said the Met was one of three forces that had not prepared adequately for government grant reductions as it had not provided a plan for the remaining £233 million it must take out of its annual budget.

The Met did not provide HMIC with figures about what proportion of its workforce would be in frontline roles by 2015 for the report, although the inspectorate suggested that the force will lose 4 per cent of its officers in that time.

But Mr Greenhalgh said he did not know how the inspectorate had formed this conclusion. He told assembly members that Mayor Boris Johnson was committed to keeping officer numbers at 32,000 – “roughly where we are now”.

He also pointed out Mayor had challenged the Met to find another £50m of savings this year, pointing out that the £233 million figure were the savings required by 2015.

The Deputy Mayor said: “I challenge the assumptions around the reduction of officer numbers. That I don’t believe is necessarily going to be the case.

“I do believe that if we focus on rationalising the property estate, significant savings and improvements to operational efficiency can be made.

“Reforms could take costs out without dramatic reduction in officer numbers.” Mr Greenhalgh told assembly members that savings would begin in the back office “before we look at any reduction in warranted officers”.

During the meeting, Met Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne said 400 officers were manning police front counters each day and 200 were working in custody suites.

He said the force is cutting front counter opening hours and opening larger custody suites to replace smaller facilities and these moves would put more officers on the frontline.

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