Meeting London’s Current and Future Policing Needs (Supplementary) [9]

Session date: 
December 9, 2014
Question By: 
Jenny Jones
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis


Commissioner, could I go back to the conundrum about the future cuts in budgets and the increasing number of officers and, therefore, the increasing percentage that their pay will be.  You have already said that pay is a huge percentage of your budget.  As you increase offices you are actually brining the point at which it becomes inefficient and you are going to have to backfill officers into support staff roles, eve closer, are you not?  If you stick with this what is a fairly arbitrary number of 32,000, or even what has been described as a ‘fetish’ for the numbers.


Answer for Meeting London’s Current and Future Policing Needs (Supplementary) [9]

Answer for Meeting London’s Current and Future Policing Needs (Supplementary) [9]

Answered By: 
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis

All I was saying was that I was trying to explain how the future might look, as well as how the present is.  We are 32,000.  I am sure, so far as you can be with nearly 50,000 people, that we have not yet backfilled police staff jobs with police officers.  What I was trying to explain was that in the future if we have to find another £800 million there is a possibility that will be more likely to happen and so, therefore, we are going to try to avoid that.  Well, not try to avoid it, we will avoid it.


Jenny Jones AM:  You have actually done the sums and you know that having 32,000 police officers will not actually mean officers backfilling in backroom jobs?


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  Today, yes.  I see the unions every quarter and one of the things that they have talked about is, “Yes, I can give you examples where a police officer is back-filling a police staff member”.  I have asked them now for the last 18 months, “Give me that list of jobs and I will go look at it”, and we are in the process of doing that.  In a big organisation it is possible it happened once or twice, however strategically at the moment I do not believe that is happening.  As you know, there are some areas we do it as a conscious strategy, in our control rooms one in four of our people are police officers, therefore when the police staff, if they should, and they have, have withdrawn their labour we can answer the phone.  We have to be able to do that.  Therefore there are examples like that.


On the crime scene investigation (CSI) side, the forensic scene examiners, we have some; however, frankly, if I could get away with it I would get a few more police officers, because again, if people withdraw their labour, which I entirely understand, at least the serious crime, and also I would say for volume crime, we need to be able to get there in the first hour and get the best evidence available.


Jenny Jones AM:  The problem is, it is much easier to sack staff than it is to sack police officers.  Therefore, when that crisis, when that inefficiency crisis hits, ie when you do not have enough support staff and you need officers there, it is too late, is it not, because you cannot sack police officers?


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  In one sense you are correct.  It is far easier to make people redundant; that is police employees, than it is police officers, because there is no scheme to do that.  However, on the whole, we have been able to meet our needs because we have been trying to grow our police officer numbers, so it has not been an issue trying to reduce them.  The big thing, the counterbalance, if you like, for the police officers is our turnover and, broadly, we lose between 1,500 and 1,800 officers a year on retirement or leaving to other organisations.  The vast majority is retirement, because our turnover is about 5%.  Really, for one year that is an awful lot of money; therefore, as we have over the last three years, when we returned the recruiting tap off, that is our best way of managing that cost pressure, rather than, as you say, the police staff, then we have the opportunity - if it be an opportunity - the cost is well under redundancy.


Jenny Jones AM:  Thank you.