Mayor Sadiq Khan has welcomed media reports that the government is set to abandon a £400m cut in the Met’s budget.
The force has already absorbed a £600m cut in recent years, achieved largely by slashing the number of police stations, selling off its former HQ building and reducing the number of Police Community Support Officers and civilian staff in order to maintain officer numbers at around 32,000.
With all ‘low hanging’ savings already achieved, the Met and Mr Khan, who has oversight of the force, have warned that further budget cuts would impact the service received by Londoners.
Mr Khan has been especially vocal in warning ministers that he could not guarantee to maintain officer numbers if they pressed ahead with the planned cuts.
Scotland Yard is already working to reduce the number of custody suites and has drawn up controversial plans to move away from its traditional borough-based command structure and adopt a regional model.
In recent months the Met has had to cope with the terror attack on Westminster Bridge and outside the Houses of Parliament, as well as the London Bridge attack which resulted in 8 deaths and many more injuries.
More recently the force has been supporting other blue services as they responded to the Grenfall House fire and just this week had to deal with an attack outside Finsbury Park mosque.
On Tuesday it emerged that the Home Office is preparing to abandon the new round of funding cuts, although no official statement has yet been made.
Responding to media reports of the imminent u-turn, Mr Khan said: “I’m pleased that the Government look likely to drop their plans to change the police funding formula – which, when it was last considered in 2015, meant the Metropolitan Police stood to lose between £174 million and £700 million a year.
“However, this alone is simply not enough to protect police numbers in London.”
In addition to dropping the planned cuts, Mr Khan wants ministers to provide more money for the Met’s national policing responsibilities such as counter terrorism.
He commented: “If the Government are serious about keeping all Londoners safe then they need to guarantee that they will fully fund the Met – which means real terms increases, cancelling the planned £400 million of cuts and giving London the full allocation of National International and Capital City (NICC) funds.”
Asked whether the Government’s change of heart could mean a reprieve for the borough command structure, a spokesperson for the Mayor told this site: “Even if the police funding formula review is dropped, the police funding situation is still very challenging, with £400m of savings needed by 2020-21 as a result of the Government’s failure to properly fund the Met.
“The Met has embarked on two pathfinder projects, looking into the merger of Borough Commands in both inner and outer London.
“The outcomes of these pathfinder projects will be evaluated before any decision is taken to roll these out more widely across the city.
“If these pathfinders are successful, they will help to make the Met more efficient, whilst improving the service Londoners receive from the police.”