Labour has claimed that newly obtained figures show London’s communities are receiving lower than expected levels of policing to allow the Met to police large-scale protests and other events in the capital.
Figures obtained by the party’s London Assembly policing spokesperson, Joanne McCartney AM, show that officers were removed from their local beat for 111,684 shifts in 2014 with a further 78,640 neighbourhood shifts lost to abstractions in the first nine months of 2015, the most recent period for which data is available.
In 2013 the Met reduced the number of officers assigned to local Safer Neighbourhood Teams from one Sergeant, two PCs and three PCSOs to one dedicated PC and PCSO.
Ms McCartney says the numbers supplied to her amount to a further cut in local policing, with communities receiving less officer time than headline borough staffing levels would otherwise suggest.
She said: “Londoners want neighbourhood police to be visible in their communities not pulled off the beat to plug gaps in other parts of London.
“The Mayor’s cuts have meant neighbourhood police teams have already lost 2,500 officers since 2010. To then further reduce local teams by over 2,000 officer shifts a month damages the capacity of local policing teams to police their neighbourhoods.”
However Scotland Yard and City Hall have defended the movement of officers between borough and London-wide policing duties.
The Met said that using officers from the 32 boroughs was “the most efficient way” of policing the capital as it avoided the need “to hold a large reserve of officers waiting for operations to happen.”
A spokesperson added: “It also ensures that officers who are deployed in public order understand the communities they police, an approach which is admired around the world. It is inaccurate to say that they are ‘plugging gaps’; they are supporting local boroughs and neighbourhoods with a specific policing response.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime, which overseas the Met, insisted Mr Johnson was “a passionate supporter of neighbourhood policing”.
They added: “Police officers can on occasion be redeployed from daily duties for a variety of important reasons; to attend court, for training, or to assist in other Boroughs at times of high demand such as at large public events.
“The Met is an emergency service serving a global city and it is vital for the safety of all Londoners that senior officers have the discretion to move resources where needed.”