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Tories blasted for Met police numbers u-turn

PUBLISHED: 10:49 17 June 2010 | UPDATED: 15:53 16 August 2010

A FORMER Met officer has blown apart Tory pre-election promises for more police on the street after recruitment freezes and budget slashes.

A FORMER Met officer has blown apart Tory pre-election promises for more police on the street after recruitment freezes and budget slashes.

Before May 6, Orpington MP Jo Johnson said his "top priority" was to get more officers on the beat after saying Bromley police were "stretched to breaking point".

Despite Bromley being the largest London borough at nearly 60 square miles it currently only has 522 officers assigned to it while Westminster, at 8.5 square miles has 1,627.

Yet this number is likely to be further reduced after it was announced last Wednesday that applications by 2,000 potential Met officers who had passed recruitment days had become void and that there were to be no start dates for two years. Staff leaving the Met will not be replaced.

The 59-year-old former Met officer, who did not want to be identified, said: "You'd have to be an idiot to think numbers on the streets are going to increase when there is a recruitment freeze on. I find the figures about Bromley very surprising. I went to Bromley the other day and did not see one police officer. The police already have civilians doing police jobs- I don't see how much further they can do that.

"Cameron said he would get rid of community support officers as well. If he did that there would be an even smaller uniformed presence.

"They tell us we have more police than ever before but we don't see them on the street. What are they doing?"

Bromley police commander Charles Griggs has been told to make a £113,000 savings in the next financial year and in February London mayor Boris Johnson said he would reduce the number of Met officer by 455 by 2012.

But both these figures could increase once Chancellor George Osborne's budget is announced next Tuesday (22).

Mr Griggs said: "It was inevitable that police would need to absorb cuts as the government reigns in public sector spending. I have been required to make in year savings of another £113,000. My proposed savings will not impact on front-line policing in Bromley."

Met Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson said it would be "extremely difficult" to make more cuts.

In a joint statement released by him and Deputy Mayor for Policing Kit Malthouse, he said: "After two years of making important savings, a further reduction in the budget will be extremely difficult for the Met.

"We recognise that cuts will be challenging across the whole of the public sector, however it will remain our ambition not to cut frontline services and we are currently assessing how we can make the additional budget cuts that are likely to be required."

Orpington MP Mr Johnson said he had been to see Mr Malthouse to "ask for a better deal" for Bromley and rejected the idea that there would be fewer police.

He said: "The Met is urgently redeploying officers to the frontline. Under Operation Herald, a London-wide scheme to recruit more civilians to custody suites, skilled non-uniformed staff members will do the back office-type functions that are now tying down our police in paperwork.

"This will free up uniformed officers for patrolling the streets. That will help address the scourge of anti-social behaviour here in the Orpington constituency."

By dividing the number of borough officers by its size, Bromley gets by far the lowest number of officers than any other London borough at just eight per square mile.

Meanwhile Westminster gets 191, Kensington and Chelsea have 121 and Islington has 119.

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