Metropolitan Police boss Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has been praised after the force’s overtime bill for front line officers fell by two-thirds.
In the 2011/12 financial year the Met’s territorial policing division paid PCs, detective constables and sergeants more than £67m in overtime.
The bill fell the following year (2012/13) to £32.7m before falling again to £24.8m in the last financial year, 2013/14.
A Met spokesperson defended past spending on overtime, saying: “There are times when it is essential for officers to work beyond their scheduled hours in order to police unforeseen events, maintain operational effectiveness, provide security and public reassurance.”
Scotland Yard attributes some of the fall to the absence of one-off events such as the 2011 riots and national celebrations including the Olympics and Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
However it says new “tighter” controls also played a part in cutting the bill.
The force is implementing a number of changes to working practices and the services it offers Londoners as it seeks to meet a £500m cut in its budget.
The spokesperson added: “The MPS takes issues of value for money and efficiency very seriously, particularly in the current financial climate and is committed to effective control of overtime expenditure.”
The reduced overtime bill has been welcomed by London Assembly member and Green party peer Baroness Jenny Jones who has repeatedly pushed the Met to stop making “routine” overtime payments.
Baroness Jones, who sits on the Assembly’s police and crime committee, said Sir Bernard “should be congratulated for pushing this reduction in overtime through”.
She added that the money saved could be better spent on “areas of the Met’s work which require extra resources to do the job properly, such as roads policing and violence against women.”