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A new report from the London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee has warned that the Metropolitan Police Service (Met) has continued to push on with unfunded plans to recruit

6,000 extra police officers in the capital. 

In September 2019, the Government announced a national campaign to fund and recruit 20,000 new police officers by 2022-23 to be shared among the 43 forces in England and Wales. Although the full details of the funding for the new recruits, or where geographically the roles would be allocated, have still not been made, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) has set a target to recruit 6,000 police officers before March 2021. While the extra police officers are very much welcomed, there is currently no money allocated to pay for these officers in either MOPAC’s or the Met’s budget leading to an estimated £1,172.8m black hole in funding which was disclosed before the COVID-19 pandemic. In reality, this sum could now be a lot more.   

The London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee has today published its findings on the “Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime & Metropolitan Police Service COVID-19 Budget Review” which highlights the main budgeting issues facing MOPAC and the Met over the coming weeks, months, and years ahead. 

The report makes recommendations on how MOPAC should better forecast to stop funding gaps arising during an already difficult financial period for the capital. Overspend and unfunded plans only add to the financial strain that is already being felt by the Greater London Authority as a result of COVID-19, even if the plans are for something as important as keeping Londoners safe.

The recommendations are:

  • MOPAC should clarify how much of its forecast revenue budget funding gap arises from its assumptions on costs associated with the Government’s officer growth programme, how much arises from unforeseen COVID-19 expenses, and how much can be attributed to other underlying structural pressures.  
  • MOPAC should present an updated strategy for its approach to estates and general capital spending, based on appropriate assumptions of police officer recruitment and service transformation. 

Susan Hall AM, Chairman of the Budget & Performance Committee, said: “There is a big question mark over how MOPAC and the Met intend to pay some police officers’ salaries next year. This lack of budget planning is causing a serious and concerning black hole in the Met’s budget. No one is arguing against the need to have more police officers on our streets but there must be certainty around where the money to pay for them is coming from. 

“In a time where everything is so uncertain, MOPAC and the Met should make every attempt to have their budgets in order to help alleviate the already strenuous pull that we’re seeing on the public finance purse. 

“MOPAC and the Met have started recruiting 6,000 police officers even though the ins and outs of the agreement has still to be agreed with Government. The city needs more police officers but in this already difficult financial period for London and the country, MOPAC and the Met are continuing to spend money that they do not have. All parts of the GLA need to ensure that their budgets for the months and years ahead are robust, achievable, and in the best interest of Londoners.”