By Max Clarke
The Metropolitan Police could become the only force in the country to increase numbers of uniformed police officers, after the Mayor of London Boris Johnson today announced proposals to lift the recruitment freeze with an additional £42m funding.
Due to budget cuts, forces throughout the UK have frozen recruitment, but the funding boost would allow the Met to start hiring again, resulting in London having approximately 32,510 uniformed police officers by May 2012.
The Met currently have long waiting lists, which include hundreds of people currently serving as PCSO’s and special constables who are set to be prioritised for full-time police jobs. The recruitment process is set to start from next Monday, 14th February.
The Mayor's plans will also protect safer neighbourhood teams in every borough and put an additional fully warranted 413 police officers onto the transport network.
The Mayor announced the proposals today during his budget statement to the London Assembly, where he reiterated his commitment to freezing the Greater London Authority’s share of the council tax for the third year running.
The Mayor said: “This £42 million investment will make the capital the envy of every police force in the country and will not cost Londoners a penny more. Sadly forces across the country are battling budgets and suffering the inevitable cuts, but in London we will buck the trend and have more uniformed fully warranted police officers than when I was elected.
“By the end of my mayoralty we will have a target of 32,510 full-time warranted police officers - significantly more than I inherited. We are also rightly protecting safer neighbourhood teams who are a superb asset to fighting local crime. My main objective remains to protect front line services and this funding will be an enormous boost to keeping our streets safe and having more uniformed police officers on patrol."
The Mayor is also freezing the GLA’s share of the council tax for the third year running — a 10 per cent cut in real terms since May 2008.
Safer neighbourhood teams are set to be protected in every borough, even in the larger wards. The management structure of the teams is being reviewed to see if smaller areas would benefit from sharing sergeants, but the Mayor has made it clear that maintaining these teams effectiveness is a priority.
The plans will see the increase in the number of police officers working in schools by 70 to a total of 253, helping to tackle youth crime.
Additional proposals in the Policing Business Plan will include revisions to traffic wardens posts, and some PCSO roles. Some of these staff will have the opportunity to be re-deployed as full time front line police officers.
The £42 million will fill the Met funding gap that arose from the Comprehensive Spending Review. The Mayor has prioritised long term planning towards a possible deficit over the past two years and has built saving reserves from the rebalancing of existing funds.