Boris Johnson has been accused of almost halving the number of Metropolitan Police special constables over his second term despite an election pledge to “double” their numbers.
When Mr Johnson was re-elected in May 2012 there were 5,677 specials, a number which has fallen to 3,253 according to the force’s own figures.
Joanne McCartney, Labour’s policing spokesperson at City Hall, says the drop comes on top of “significant cuts” in the number of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).
She added that the gap between Mr Johnson’s pledge and his legacy is “an embarrassing failure” for a mayor who hailed the importance of the volunteer officers and accused him of leaving a “much reduced police force for his successor”.
Labour says the decline in numbers and loss of PCSOs means frontline officers are receiving less support and weakens the link between the Met and the communities it serves.
Ms McCartney commented: “With the PCSO ranks decimated and police officer numbers also in decline, the falling number of Specials should be of real concern to the Mayor.
“Boris should be asking why the Met is failing to attract enough people, is it because the opportunities are not well enough advertised or is the increasing pressure facing the police putting people off?”
However London’s deputy mayor for policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, defended the mayor’s record and insisted “the percentage of officers in visible frontline roles has increased substantially” despite a national fall in the number of officers.
Mr Greenhalgh also said that a large number of the 5,000 officers recruited over the past three years had been “special constables who have now moved from their volunteer roles into permanent jobs in the regular police force”.
He added: “The Met are actively seeking to recruit more specials and I would urge Londoners to apply to the variety of important and hugely rewarding voluntary roles on offer”.