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Spending Review: 'Painful truth' over likely pending police cuts

PUBLISHED: 09:31 25 November 2015 | UPDATED: 09:42 25 November 2015

A back view of a police community support officer. Picture Ben Birchall/PA Archive/Press Association Images

A back view of a police community support officer. Picture Ben Birchall/PA Archive/Press Association Images

PA Archive/PA Images

How police in Hackney respond to missing people and mental health patients could change if the Met's budget is slashed in the government's Spending Review, a senior police officer has warned.

Acting Chief Insp Ian Simpkins has warned that “some difficult decisions about what we can continue to provide” are going to have to be made in the next few years, if even just the lower end of expectations of 20 per cent is cut from the budget for the next five years - which are due to be announced later on today.

“We are starting to manage people’s expectations that in all likelihood we will not be able to deliver everything we do now for at least 20 per cent less and that’s the painful truth,” he said.

“What we are finding is that the more we look at the more it’s difficult to say what we should cut, it’s difficult to take any single work and say that will have no impact because we are doing it for a reason.”

Possible ways of making efficiency savings could come through merging several boroughs together into basic command units.

The role of the PCSO is also under scrutiny, with Met considering cutting all PCSOs in London boroughs.

Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe has already stated publically that the bulk of the efficiency savings have already been made in terms of selling real estate, and now it’s likely that staff numbers will reduced.

“Performance will now probably be impacted in the next few years, there is no other way of doing it.”

“We are the service of last resort when it comes to mental health and welfare , if social services can’t provide, the police are called on to make sure someone is ok, and that’s taking up an increasing part of our time.

“We will have to look whether that’s our responsibility in the future, other agencies might have to pick it up.

“Missing persons is also a big time and resource intensive piece of work that we do.

“The police no longer deal with lost property is an example of how we’ve already changed.”

He continued: “It’s going to be a time of enormous challenge, I think the Metropolitan police will be a very different beast in three years than it is now.

“But we won’t have the luxury of saying yes to everything. Historically when we have been asked to do something the first response has been to figure out how to do it and not if we can do it.

“We will still be here, we aren’t going to go away but rather than the concept of picking up the phone to the police and us expecting ourselves to deliver everything, I think that may come to a halt.”

Mike Penning, Minister for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Victims, said in a statement: “Decisions on the operational deployment of resources in the Metropolitan Police are matters for Commissioner, in association with the Mayor of London, but there is no question that the police still have the resources to do their important work.

“What matters is how officers are deployed, not how many of them there are in total.”

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