Community policing

Meeting: 
MQT on 2019-03-21
Session date: 
March 21, 2019
Reference: 
2019/6037
Question By: 
Caroline Pidgeon
Organisation: 
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

What is the Metropolitan Police’s new Partnership Plus scheme?

Supplementary Questions: 

Answer

Community policing

Community policing

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The introduction of Partnership Plus last month was an operational decision made by the MPS Commissioner [Cressida Dick CBE QPM] as it relates to the deployment of officers.  The scheme allows local authorities to purchase additional police officers at a reduced rate, allowing local authorities to focus the work of officers to their local priorities.  It replaces the previous MPS Patrol Plus scheme.

 

The scheme has changed because the Government has already forced the MPS to make savings of £850 million, with a further £263 million worth of cuts still required by 2022.  These cuts are having a real impact, forcing officer numbers down from 33,260 in 2010 to 29,869 now.  On top of that, Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) and police staff numbers are also down.  Under the previous scheme, officers were provided on a so‑called ‘buy one, get one free’ basis to local authorities, but in reality this cost the MPS an additional £9 million each year, an amount that, due to Government cuts, simply is not sustainable.

 

At a time when the MPS is facing increasing demands, a lack of Government funding and falling officer numbers, the Commissioner was clear that greater flexibility was needed over police officers in order to respond to critical incidents such as violent crime.  Nevertheless, the Commissioner remains committed to working in partnership, recognising that tackling local priorities requires co‑operation.

 

Therefore, the Commissioner has revised the scheme, alleviating the issue of cost and inflexibility while maintaining the principle that local authorities can invest in local policing.  The new scheme is sustainable for the MPS, yet it enables local authorities to purchase police officers at a reduced rate of £57,000 per Constable.  This represents a discount of over 21% on the full cost of an officer.  Any purchased officers will be additional to the Basic Command Unit (BCU) workforce complement and will be ringfenced from normal aid provision or other local abstraction.  The MPS will continue to honour all existing MPS Patrol Plus agreements until their natural expiry.  There will also be a three‑month transition period beginning at the end of March [2019] to enable local authorities whose contracts expire time to decide whether to invest in the new scheme.  Partnership Plus will enable local authorities to continue to purchase additional police officers while remaining viable for the MPS.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Thank you very much for providing that detail.  Under the old Patrol Plus scheme, boroughs could, as you say, benefit from effectively a ‘buy one, get one free’ offer, which basically was a 50% discount.  Under this scheme they are being offered only about 21% discount.  The boroughs I have been talking to think that this is not a good deal.  Also, you cannot even guarantee that the officers that a borough purchases will remain in that borough.  Do you understand that some boroughs may now walk away from the scheme entirely?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am clear that the MPS Commissioner [Cressida Dick CBE QPM] has a difficult task to do.  As I said, the number of officers has gone down from 33,000‑plus to lower than 30,000.  There is an impact in relation to both MPS costs ‑ because they subsidise this scheme ‑ and flexibility.  Therefore, I fully support the decision made by the Commissioner.  I can understand that if the scheme is less attractive to local authorities because they get less discount, they may decide not to do so and use the money elsewhere with wardens or other things that they can afford.

 

What is clear for us to realise is that this is a subsidy given to councils by the MPS budget and also there is a lack of direction and control because local authorities get to say where the officers go.  I can understand that at a time when there were more officers there was an ability to have inflexibility and to subsidise this.  When there are fewer officers and less money, the MPS Commissioner must be able to use her officers as she sees fit.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Do you think this new scheme should also maybe cover PCSOs?  Surely allowing boroughs to purchase PCSOs at a discounted rate would also help with some of the issues around vacancies with PCSO posts.  Is that something you would put to the Commissioner to consider?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  No, because the Commissioner is quite clear that she needs more Constables.  She needs more police officers.  Although we are recruiting PCSOs, that is to fill the current cohort we have.  You will be aware that in 2010 we used to have in each ward one designated Sergeant, two designated Dedicated Ward Officers and three PCSOs.  By the time I became Mayor, that was down to one and one.  It is really important that I was able to increase the amount of Dedicated Ward Officers to two with one PCSO as well.

 

What the MPS Commissioner does not believe we should be doing is recruiting a cohort of many more thousands of PCSOs because we need to recruit many more thousands of police officers.  That is the priority.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  You do have vacancies in PCSOs and you are looking to start some sort of recruitment programme?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  We are.  I beg your pardon.  Sorry, that was my fault.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Therefore, I was wondering whether having an offer to local authorities that might be attractive might help them to pay for some of these posts.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  My understanding from speaking to council leaders is that because a PCSO does not have the same powers of arrest as a Police Constable, they cannot do the same things.  Some councils are using the money, rather than paying for a PCSO, to pay for a Borough Warden or another form of uniformed council staff who have similar powers to a PCSO.  The councils have more control.  Some councils are going down that route rather than the PCSO route.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  I am wondering whether you might consider working with the Commissioner to review this new offer to at least ensure that the officers boroughs could buy will remain in their own boroughs rather than going to the wider merged BCU and whether potentially PCSOs could be considered as part of this in the future?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The Commissioner is always looking for new ideas and I am happy to pass the words of the Assembly Member to the Commissioner and to Deputy Mayor [for Policing and Crime, Sophie] Linden as well.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Thank you very much.

 

Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  Thank you.  That was an exemplary session.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chairman, I am not sure if you are having a pop at Assembly Member Bacon or at me, but Mr Bacon could learn a lot from Ms Pidgeon.