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National politics

Police numbers – there is another way

One of the main stories yesterday was the news that police numbers have fallen by 6,000 or 4% over the course of the last year. Altogether police numbers may fall by up to 16,000 up to 2015 as a result of police budget cuts. See BBC story here. The Telegraph story mentioned that crime had fallen by 4% in the same period too.

A simple measure that would offset the full 16,000 loss in police up to 2015 would be to close police canteens and ask officers to buy their meals out like most of the rest of us do. This means that the deterrent effect of police being physically present would be extended even whilst officers eat. They would also save travel time between their duty stations and their canteens. This is common practice in the US.

In London police get free travel on Tubes and buses. Again, by requiring them to travel in uniform in return for this huge benefit you get policing for free.

Both changes are worth 10-15%.

In London the police have delivered 1 million additional patrols a year by the simple expedient of asking officers to patrol alone.

The police are probably our most hidebound and unmodernised public service. LibDem GLA member, Dee Doocey’s campaign on perks for senior officers in the Met illustrates again how much further there is to go. There is another way.