Cutting times for the police
It's all up in the air right now how deep the cuts will be for the Met.
The coalition government has announced a £135 million cut to policing in England and Wales. The detail has not yet been hammered out so we don't know what exactly the impact will be on London.
But Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson put on record this morning that he does not anticipate any fall in police numbers.
At the last count, the total officer strength was 33,143 plus a further 4,588 PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers).
These are unprecedented numbers which we're told is something the public wants. Feeling safe on our streets, goes apparently arm-in-arm with a visible uniformed presence.
"We have long-term plans for reducing the budget," the commissioner told a group of crime hacks today.
"We have to live in the real world. There's going to be difficult times for all public sector organisations including the Met."
He talked about "leaner and meaner" processes, value for money, cutting costs but maintaining effectiveness.
He gave several examples of where he could cut: the vehicle fleet, service suppliers.
A source on the Metropolitan Police Authority told me the budget will remain untouched this year but the following 12 months would see "significant savings".
Another suggested that zero-based budgeting was the only way forward.
Instead of shaving bits off the budget, otherwise known as "salami slicing", this person said all expenditure in every area of the Met should be justified.
"Let's start with a blank piece of paper," the source said. "We fund loads of things that are just not needed. We should chop out some of the layers of management. And we can start with the chaufeurs and limos that some of them have."
The commissioner has pre-empted this particular critic on at least one thing.
He said he's written to the MPA today and stated that there will be no recommendations for bonuses for 29 of his highest-ranking officers and senior police staff this year.
He said it is "inappropriate at this time" to accept any bonuses.
He cited operational independence and the belief that it does not motivate officers to get the job done.
"I do not believe in them," he said. "I have questions about bonuses in the public sector generally."