London

Drastic cuts to Met Police budget says deputy mayor

Met Police officers
Image caption The force has faced cuts of £600m in the past four years

There will be "drastic cuts" to the Metropolitan Police budget over the next few years, the mayor's deputy for policing has admitted.

Stephen Greenhalgh said the cuts would make it difficult to maintain frontline officer numbers.

He said the annual cuts to the grant from the Home Office would make things very hard to manage by 2020.

The force has said it expected to have to make cuts of £800m to its £3.5bn budget over the next four years.

This is coming after cuts of £600m made over the last four years.

But the Home Office said no decision had been made on police funding beyond March 2016 because this would be a matter for the next government.

Morale 'not good'

Mr Greenhalgh said it would be wrong to cut police officer numbers at a time when the capital's population was growing.

The deputy mayor - who recently announced he was seeking the Tory candidacy to be mayor in 2016 - said he wanted to see emergency services combining functions and reforms to the criminal justice system, like the Crown Prosecution Service in London.

Local councils could have to pay for more police officers in future, he said. Despite the cuts faced by boroughs, requests for more officers were at record levels.

Deputy police commissioner Craig Mackey told the London Assembly's budget and performance committee the police were "struggling with this" and that morale in the force was not good.

Assembly members have warned that cutting civilian staff too severely would lead to too many officers coming off the frontline to fill those roles.

Mr Mackey said there would have to be tough decisions made about the number of different police ranks and whether all 32 London boroughs would continue to have a senior officer, at the rank of chief superintendent or above, in charge.

'Credible plans'

Policing Minister Mike Penning said: "We have made it easier for the police to do their job by cutting red tape, scrapping unnecessary targets and giving them the discretion to use their professional judgement.

"In its PEEL assessment of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), HMIC (Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary) found the force has a good track record for recognising emerging threats and retaining staff in critical posts, including in crime investigation.

"The proportion of police officers on the frontline is growing and HMIC said the MPS has credible plans for dealing with financial pressures."

The mayor has recently submitted his draft budget for next year for scrutiny by the London Assembly.

Only transport body TfL is getting more money than last year, reflecting the need to keep pace with the rising population. Its budget is just short of £11bn.

Budget and performance committee chairman John Biggs said TfL's budget was being used increasingly by the mayor to try to regenerate undeveloped parts of London.

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