The Metropolitan Police has announced plans to cut 3,500 support staff over the next three years and axe 1,200 officers above the rank of sergeant.
The plans, which are subject to approval from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, also include recruiting 2,000 new police constables.
However critics say the loss of back office staff will see more officers behind desks rather than out on the street.
The proposed job cuts come as the Met attempts to meet budget cuts of £500m imposed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson. The force has already proposed selling its world-famous New Scotland Yard HQ to reduce expenditure.
In September Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe warned that budget cuts would reduce support for frontline officers.
The Met is funded by a mixture of central Government and local funding, with the Mayor able to raise funds for policing and other sevices through a precept on the Council Tax. However in his first term Mayor Johnson froze the level of the precept before delivering a pre-election cut of £3.10 per household for the current tax year.
The Mayor has also imposed spending cuts on the capital’s Fire Brigade, leading to speculation that stations may close and fire engines be scrapped or mothballed.
Despite cutting budgets in core services, the Mayor has incurred planned expenditure of £225m on the Cycle Hire scheme and spent more than £60m on the Thames Cable Car which is currently running significantly below capacity.
The sponsorship agreements for both schemes cover just a fraction of the cost of the taxpayer.
London Assembly Reaction
Responding to news of the Met’s job cuts, Green party London Assembly Member Jenny Jones said she was “concerned the plan to cut a quarter of the support staff in the Met is a panic measure to stay within the budget”.
Ms Jones said the result would be “more police officers in backroom roles” and warned: “You cannot have the frontline without the back office.”
Joanne McCartney, Labour’s Police & Crime spokesperson at City Hall, said: “This is further evidence that the government’s cuts are hitting frontline policing in London. Losing a quarter of our police sergeants will be a body blow to neighbourhood policing. They are our local police leaders who are absolutely critical in keeping communities safe.
“Boris cut 150 police sergeants last year, so the numbers are already too low. We need the right mixture of police officers, sergeants, and senior police leaders. These proposed cuts will fundamentally undermine this mix.”
Last month the Mayor told Police Deputy Stephen Greenhalgh he was willing to consider allowing Police officer numbers to fall.