Redbridge police chief rebuts officer shortfall claims

Crime scene police cordon

Crime scene police cordon - Credit: Archant

A shortfall in police numbers branded an “absolute scandal” has been tackled, according to a senior officer.

Figures from May – the latest period available – showing vacancy rates at forces across the Metropolitan Police were published on Tuesday, with Redbridge listed as needing 14 sergeants and 29 constables.

But speaking exclusively to the Recorder, Ch Insp John Fish said positions had since been filled.

He said: “The figures are currently wrong, because a month ago we got a new batch of police.

“We’re packed to the rafters at the moment.”

He confirmed the borough was still under its assigned strength by “one or two”.

Ch Insp Fish said the “historic” shortfall was because the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) had decided more police were needed on the streets, and the recruitment process takes time.

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“MOPAC told us to increase numbers across London. We cannot just increase police numbers by magic,” he added.

Just three weeks ago, the Recorder reported the borough was forced to bring in reinforcements from other areas during an “exceptionally busy” period.

Det Ch Insp Neil Lemon told the paper the borough was “a few short” and would be pushing for new officers, having already recruited 11 sergeants earlier in August.

The vacancy statistics, obtained by Labour London Assembly Member Joanne McCartney, showed there were 1,209 vacancies for sergeants and constables across the capital.

Tom Copley, Labour London Assembly Member, said on Tuesday: “It is an absolute scandal that police numbers have been allowed to fall this low.”

A Met spokesman said the current position across London was “positive” in spite of a “significant reduction” in the force’s overall budget.

He said the Met had around 31,200 officers at the end of August, and was on track for 32,000 by 2015/16.

“We didn’t plan for, nor could we have afforded, 32,000 officers throughout the year, so it’s inaccurate to suggest we’re running with high vacancies against our budget,” he added.