Boris Johnson has been urged to drop his “arbitrary target” for police numbers and ensure officers serving on the front line have adequate levels of support to do their jobs safely and effectively.
The Mayor has pledged to hold officer numbers at “at or around” 32,000 despite the Metropolitan police having to make £800m of budget cuts.
As part of its savings programme, the force has axed thousands of posts responsible for providing operational support to front line officers.
According to figures compiled by the Green party on the London Assembly, the number of officers, PCSOs and civilian workers employed in support roles fell by 3,970 (28%) between 2008 and 2014.
During the same period the number employed to support the Met’s internal needs, including head office functions, fell by 1,900 (31%).
In 2012 Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said spending cuts could only be achieved by reducing staffing numbers, adding that the ban on making police officers redundant meant the axe would fall “disproportionately” on civilian and support workers.
He warned any cuts could mean officers “at the front line will not get the support they need.”
London Assembly member Baroness Jenny Jones has expressed concern that the Commissioner’s concerns have proven justified.
She said: “Talking solely in terms of police officers ignores the fact that PCSOs and staff can be in frontline roles too – the civilian staff member working in a homicide team is just as important as a police officer walking the beat.”
Baroness Jones has called on the Mayor to reconsider his policy of prioritising headline officer numbers and “focus on increasing the amount of staff, PCSOs and police officers in frontline roles.”
In July a report by Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) questioned whether the Mayor’s target was sustainable and suggested it would need to be reconsidered after 2016.
Speaking at the time, Mr Johnson said his successor would be unwise to allow officer numbers to drop.