Today’s Home Office Statistical Bulletin, certified by the Office for National Statistics, gives definitive figures for police numbers throughout the country. And the figures for London are particularly striking:
- Police officer numbers in the Metropolitan Police were 32,900 in September 2010, fell to 32,441 by March 2011, with a further fall to 31,657 in September 2011 – a loss of 1,243 officers over the year.
- Police staff numbers were 14,047 in September 2010, falling to 13,688 by March 2011, and then to 13,126 in September 2011.
- The number of Police Community Support Officers also fell over the same period: from 4,387 to 4,009 and then to 3,903.
Now I don’t believe that police numbers should be the only goal of policing policy. Many duties are performed by warranted police officers that could be performed by police staff or by PCSOs, but these figures show big falls in all three categories – so, if anything, more police officers will be carrying out roles that could have been performed by people other than warranted police officers, as police staff jobs are back-filled by police officers. The reduction in PCSOs will also impact directly on the uniformed presence on the streets.
These figures are not going to be good news for the Conservative Party who have been trying to pretend in their campaign to re-elect Boris Johnson as Mayor that police numbers are really improving and, of course, that there is no problem on London’s streets with violent crime and gang crime.