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150 officers 'on hacking probe'

There are just 27 police officers tracking down paedophiles in London while 150 officers work on the investigation into phone hacking, the Leveson Inquiry has heard.

Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime in London, revealed the figures as he explained why he had questioned top officers about the levels of resources going into the phone hacking investigation.

Mr Malthouse raised concerns about how much money was being spent on the inquiry and earlier this month Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick said Mr Malthouse had questioned her three times about the amount of effort going into the investigation.

Mr Malthouse said it was his job to ask questions about how money was spent and which types of crime detectives should focus on.

He said the forecast Metropolitan Police spend on Operation Weeting, the inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World, was £40 million. He contrasted that with £36 million spent on investigating child abuse annually in London.

"I was keen to ensure that they weren't overplaying it," said the politician, referring to Weeting.

Mr Malthouse said that in 2009 Scotland Yard had a backlog of 400 rape investigations and throughout 2010 the Met was struggling with resources and he was unhappy with the force's approach to dealing with gang crime.

He said: "I was keen to ensure that they were not undertaking this investigation at the detriment of, for instance, rape victims."

He added that the forecast will rise next year to using 200 people on Operation Weeting.

"That's the equivalent of eight murder squads," he said.

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