1 x Superintendant
2 x Chief Inspectors
13 x Inspectors
100 x Sergeants
800 x Constables
Allowing for 84 officers of various ranks belonging to specialist squads. Split into three shifts, this would give (allowing for leave and a 5% sickness rate) 3 inspectors, 25 sergeants and 220 plods patrolling the streets of my borough at any hour of the night or day. When the reality is something like 24 plods available on the streets of Lewisham borough at any one time - a tenth of what our rates pay for - one has to ask why.
As Simon Jenkins says in tonight's 'Standard';
The lack of political oversight of London's police has continued for almost two centuries, to the point where the force is in part a private army, working to its own rules of engagement.Well, I can suggest where all our plods are. I'll bet the real borough structure is something like this;
Meanwhile the streets of London have been delegated to three uninspiring groups: community support officers paid for by borough rates, private security guards paid for by residents and traffic wardens paid for by fines.
London's streets are mostly policed off the police budget. Londoners might reasonably ask where the Met's exorbitant spending of £3.6 billion actually goes.
1 x Superintendant
13 x Chief Inspectors - 6 on specialist squads, 3 on long-term sick, 1 on secondment to Kosovo
32 Inspectors - 18 on specialist squads, 10 only work M-F 9 to 5 on admin and performance indicators, 2 on long term sick
423 Sergeants - 260 on specialist squads, 100 only work office hours and never leave the office, 50 on long-term sick, 10 suspended, 2 acting-up to cover for sick inspectors
120 Constables - 30 on long-term sick etc.
So, for my borough's share of a £3.6bn budget, that's £112m a year in our local tax payments, we've got just 24 plods on duty.
Anyone who imagines that this represents value is insane.
As Jenkins writes;
The public's sense of security begins in the home and in the street outside the home. If those places are not safe, nothing else matters.
This security should rely, as in cities such as Tokyo, on known street officers and police “shops”, operating under a borough commander and a network of local committees.
In every meaningful sense it is these bodies that should “run” the police, setting priorities, responding to crises, paying extra for more protection, comforting victims and, above all, knowing each other.
With the collapse of properly local government, the police officer, alongside the head teacher or the vicar, emerges as one the few leaders of the local community.
He or she embodies a lost civic authority. At least they should work in tandem with elected local figures.
We know what happens when the London police are left to their own devices, as Stephenson and Orde would like. They take the money and run. They need watching all the time.
There is no such thing as too much politics. Oversight is democracy at work. More please.