The Government’s decision to protect police budgets means a controversial plan to axe more than 1,000 Police Community Support Officers will now not go ahead.
Police funding across England Wales was expected to be slashed as part of the Government’s austerity programme, leading the Met’s management board to draw up a range of cost saving options.
The proposal to axe the PSCOs was widely criticised by London Assembly members who warned it risked weakening community policing at a time when the increased security threat meant the force needed a greater presence on the streets.
Appearing before the Assembly on Thursday, Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said last month’s announcement that police funding would now be protected meant “we will not be removing PCSOs from neighbourhoods”.
He confirmed to AMs that each ward would have at least 1 PC and 1 PCSO and said further announcements would be made in the New Year.
However Sir Bernard said other options drawn up to meet the expected cuts will go ahead where they help modernise the force and achieve better value for the taxpayer.
This includes plans to sell off more police buildings and the marketing testing of back office services to determine whether private contractors can provide services cheaper.
Speaking after today’s meeting, Labour’s London Assembly Policing Spokesperson, Joanne McCartney AM said: “PCSOs are the eyes and ears of the police, they play an incredibly important intelligence gathering role and scrapping them entirely would have been an absolute disaster.
“PCSOs have faced months of uncertainty as a result of the Government’s threatened funding cuts. I am glad our campaign has helped to prevent these cuts and reassure PCSOs that their role is highly valued.
“There is little doubt scrapping PCSOs would have resulted in the end of neighbourhood policing as we know it.”
Liberal Democrat spokesperson Caroline Pidgeon commented: “This is great news and a huge victory for everyone who values community policing.
“Getting rid of London’s Police Community Support Officers would have seen London return to the dark days of remote and inaccessible policing.
“Police Community Support Officers play a crucial role in building up relations and engaging with local communities, including the collection of vital intelligence for effective policing.
“London is a safer place because they exist.”