Itâ€™s only Tuesday, and my quill is already getting blunt.
Yesterday I discussed the (yet again) vindictive reports coming out of HMIC and IPCC, you can find that here if you havenâ€™t already read it.
Today Iâ€™m occupied by the proposed cuts looming for the Met.Â I know that the Met is not the only Force facing cuts, merely one of 43, but what staggers me is the size of those cuts and what that means for the future of, what is undoubtedly, the largest Force in the land.
With 31,500 warranted officers it is far and away the largest force, and by comparison the second largest is West Midlands Police with 7,155 warranted officers, all the way down to Warwickshire with a mere 788.
Iâ€™ve learned a lot about the Met since I retired and Iâ€™m no longer certain that I would describe it as the Best Force, but nobody can argue that it’s the largest and probably best-resourced. In retirement I have spent some wonderful hours sharing many cups of coffee with colleagues still serving in Constabulary Forces and been made aware of the â€˜Bleeding Obviousâ€™Â The Met do it differently.
In all the time I was serving I was blissfully unaware of just how lucky I was.Â We used to moan that we didnâ€™t have a widget for so and so, or a gizzmo for this and that, but basically we were incredibly well off compared to our County Cousins.
I donâ€™t know if it is still the case but the Met used to survive on that dirty word â€˜Overtimeâ€™.Â Entire Public Order events were policed by officers on overtime sometimes, almost inevitably a third to half of a PSU would be on overtime.Â Rest days being cancelled, with, or without, notice was a frequent occurrence.
In August 2012 I asked the Met how many Rest Days were still outstanding, waiting to be re-rostered and taken, the reply I got was this
â€œThere are 165,624 rest days (as of 5th July 2012) that are currently shown
as either cancelled, outstanding or waiting for officers to re-roster
However please note there are 43,355 rest days that have been re-rostered
to the future.â€
I have read elsewhere that this figure is now closer to half a million.
I remember fondly that when overtime restrictions were first brought in (for welfare reasons allegedly) we were not allowed to incur more than 100 hours overtime a month without a supervisor submitting a report supporting it.Â The Met truly did run on overtime even though they had even more than 31,500 officers in those days, and considerably less demand.
Which brings me to the point of todayâ€™s post.Â In the last round of budgetary cuts in the name of Austerity, the Met lost Â£600 million from its budget.Â Even a behemoth like the Met must have felt the pain. In fact Iâ€™m sure they did.Â In an attempt to ease the pain Police Stations were sold off, Front Counters closed, manpower lost, back office officers moved back onto the Front Line, even Peel Centre hasnâ€™t escaped untouched.
No, theyâ€™re not carrying out improvements, that bitâ€™s been sold orft.Â Training Centres, Feeding Centres â€“ gone.
Now we hear that the Met has to suffer a further Â£800 million of cuts and my honest question is simply HOW?
I canâ€™t sit here and pretend that cuts are not necessary, Iâ€™m not convinced that theyâ€™re being applied fairly and evenly (why ring-fence the Overseas Aid budget for example?) but how on earth can the Met survive?Â And what hope is there for the rest of the country if the biggest (by far) Force is suffering?
My loyalty (if I have any left) is obviously to the Met, but I am capable of seeing the bigger picture and Iâ€™m convinced that itâ€™s not a good one.Â Iâ€™ve said before that even if we elected a new Government this Thursday, the changes brought about by May, Camoron and Winsor will take decades to reverse, if ever, and now itâ€™s set to get to worse.
Home Office Stats for Policing Strength are already listed under 10 Regions plus BTP so maybe thatâ€™s whatâ€™s in store for us. Or maybe a National Force under a new Chief
Commissioner, who knows.
I have previously writ that Iâ€™ve heard a rumour that the inner sanctum of the Home Office contains a document predicting a total National Policing Strength of 80,000, may your god help us if weâ€™re ever reduced to those levels, but it would solve the budgetary problems which is the only priority the ConDems seem to have on their list. They donâ€™t seem to care about the strength of the Armed Forces or any of the Emergency Services, who knows what theyâ€™re agenda is?