Policing in the capital is to be radically reshaped under proposals published today by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).
Under the draft Police and Crime Plan there will be a greater emphasis on local policing with the number of officers assigned to Safer Neighbourhood Teams boosted by 2,600.
The additional officers will be freed up by scrapping the majority of the Met’s 107 specialist crime units which tackle offences such as burglary and motor theft.
In future, each borough will have a reactive policing team while frontline officers will be trained to have a greater skill-set, including a better knowledge of how to preserve forensic evidence.
MOPAC says across the capital front line police numbers will increase from 24,630 in 2013 to 25,909 by 2015. By the same date the number of supervising officers – Sergeants and above – will fall from 7.160 to 6,022.
The Met currently has a higher ratio of Sergeants to PCs than any other force in England and Wales.
The proposals form part of the Met’s response a £500m cut in its budget.
Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne said the force “will be putting more officers into local policing across the capital and devoting more to our Safer Neighbourhoods Teams.”
IN November the Met announced plans to cut 3,500 support staff.
The force will also reduce its estate from 500 buildings to around 300 and has already announced plans to sell its New Scotland Yard headquarters.
A previously announced relocation of front counters to non-Police buildings will go ahead. Under a pilot scheme to be confirmed later this year, some front counters will be moved to Post Office branches.
The Met says in reducing front desks it is following the public’s changing behaviour of reporting greater numbers of crimes online and by phone.
According to MOPAC just 71 front counters account for 80% of public visits.
MOPAC has abandoned plans to share Borough Commanders across boroughs after opposition from community groups and politicians.
However the ranks Borough Commanders may change, with some areas led by Superintendents rather than Chief Superintendents.
Other measures contained in the Plan include reducing the Met’s IT spend while also moving toward greater mobile access of data for officers.
City Hall says the new policing model “will make the police more visible and accountable to local people.”
Unveiling the Crime Plan, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “Putting more officers on the streets is key to driving down crime and boosting public confidence in the police and that is why it is at the heart of our plans for policing in the capital.
“In the current economic climate there is no denying that tough decisions will have to be made but policing in the capital is changing and we must change with it by creating a police force that is ready to tackle the issues that matter most to Londoners.”
The Mayor’s policing deputy Stephen Greenhalgh added: “By putting bobbies before buildings and being smarter about how we use budgets we can not only create a police force to be proud of but one that we can afford.”
The proposals are subject to an eight-week public consultation, with question and answer sessions to be held in each borough.
Joanne McCartney, Labour’s London Assembly policing spokesperson, commented: “Plans to replace senior experienced officers with new recruits has obvious risks, especially around supervision of police constables.
“We doubt the mayor can keep his election promises, as HMIC reported last week police visibility is down and this trend will continue. This is further evidence that the Mayor and Government are cutting too far too fast.”
Green party Am Jenny Jones said: “Londoners want police on the streets, not in the back office and I worry that this plan fails to do that.”
“The key thing for Londoners is having police officers on the frontline in operational roles. However, there has been a reduction of 2,623 police officers and staff in operational roles since March 2010 and my concern is that cutting support staff in the hope of keeping officer numbers high will mean police officers doing back office jobs that could be done by cheaper civilian staff.”
Commenting on suggestions that each Ward could see a reduction in the number of dedicated officers, Liberal Democrat AM Caroline Pidgeon said: “These proposals will decimate the successful safer neighbourhood teams that have operated in every ward across London for the last decade.
“If implemented there is a real fear that we will return to the dark days when the public had far less contact and interaction with their local police.”