David Cameron said at last night's debate that "we're not seeing enough police on the streets."
Gordon Brown challenged him on how he would pay for this:
GORDON BROWN: Will you match our funding on the police? The answer is no from your manifesto. This is not Question Time.ALASTAIR STEWART: Let Mr Cameron answer your point.GORDON BROWN: It's answer time, David.DAVID CAMERON: What matters is what comes out. I went to a Hull police station the other day. They had five different police cars, and they were just about to buy a £73,000 Lexus. There's money that could be saved to get the police on the frontline. The Metropolitan Police have 400 uniformed officers in their human resources department. Our police officers should be crime fighters, not form-fillers, and that's what needs to change.
The argument is clear. By cutting "form filling" we can reduce police spending and still get more police out on the street.
All we need to do is cut back on a couple of
Lexuses Lexi. Just not his own.
However, as Sunder points out the Lexus claims are not all that they seem and the claims about the Met are even dodgier.
Now the first thing to point out about the Met is that it is currently being tillered by Boris Johnson.
And if uniformed police officers really are stuck doing pointless "form filling" then surely Boris should have done something about it by now?
But then perhaps the reason he hasn't, is because those officers are already doing the jobs that they're meant to do.
According to a statement put out by the Met today:
In the Election TV debate televised last evening (15 April), David Cameron commented that there were 400 uniformed police officers in the Met's Human Resources department.In HR, in 2009-10, we have;
- 208 police officers teaching new police officer recruits, specials and probationers
- 26 police officers training new PCSO's
- 63 police officers in the Driver Training School teaching and assessing advanced and response driver training
- 55 police officers in various other training roles
- 30 police officers undertaking Sergeant and Inspector assessments and other work in the Career Management Unit
- 8 police officers in the Police Federation, Superintendents' Association and Staff Support Associations
- 8 police officers in Positive Action, recruitment, Community Engagement, Duties and other areas of HR workTotal - 398In 2010-11, this number reduces to 370.
So that's mostly training rather than form filling.
Of course it may be that some of this work could be done by police staff rather than uniformed officers.
But considering that Boris is also cutting police staff in some areas and Human resources funding generally, then it is hard to see how this could be the case.
And considering that Boris is also taking 455 police officers off the street then it is difficult to understand just who Cameron thinks will do this work.
Isn't the truth simply that if you spend less, you get less, and Cameron and Boris should not keep trying to pretend otherwise.
But then perhaps their policy of getting parents to run schools could be extended to the Met.
Anyone fancy training a few police officers in their spare time?