Providing chauffeur driven cars to senior Met police officers is costing Londoners almost £1.5m per year.
Last year the Met spent £997,000 on drivers for senior officers, with a further £190,000 bill for purchase and leasing 41 vehicles, £256,000 on maintenance and £13,000 on insurance.
Despite the force having to close and mothball front counters and sell its Scotland Yard HQ to meet £500m of budget cuts, it is expected to increase the amount it spends on vehicles from £190,000 to £335,000 in the next 12 months.
The increase in vehicle costs comes despite the number of vehicles available to senior officers falling from 41 to 26 during the 2012/13 financial year.
Figures published by Mayor Boris Johnson in response to a question from Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon show that the sums spent on drivers, maintenance and insurance aren’t expected to decrease despite the Met’s wider cuts.
Questioned by former AM Dee Doocey on the issue in 2009, the Mayor said: “the difficulty is, when you have contractual arrangements with ACPO officers, and they have taken a job on one basis, then to change the rules in the middle of their term of office, can be difficult.”
In an answer accompanying the new figures, the Mayor said his “key objective in the current budget is to maximise value for the taxpayer through the pursuit of savings and efficiencies while protecting frontline services”.
Commenting on the Mayor’s answer, Ms Pidgeon said: “It is quite incredible that while closing police counters across the whole of London the Mayor can justify £1.5 million of taxpayer’s money being spent on senior police officers being chauffeured to work and to meetings.
“Instead of making excuses the Mayor must now ensure that this perk for senior police officers is ended once and for all.”
City Hall insiders have previously expressed concern that a failure to reassure the public that budget cuts are being shared equally across the Met could undermine public confidence in the force.
Last month the force refused to say whether the sums spent on protecting senior officers would fall in line with the budget available for the frontline policing used by the public.
Answering an FOI request by this site, Scotland Yard said “there is a public interest in confirming whether named police officers are the subject of protection, as this information would provide the general public with a greater understanding of the ranks, roles and/or responsibilities of police officers that attract specific protection.”
However it claimed exemption from serving that public interest, insisting that the information “would highlight which police officers are not protected and where protection is in place, the extent of that protection” and “make police officers targets and place them at greater risk.”