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Met Police 'will be just as effective with fewer officers'

The new head of Scotland Yard has admitted Britain's largest police force could shrink over the course of her tenure.

But Cressida Dick insisted the Metropolitan Police can still deliver a "very effective" service even if officer numbers fall further, having already slipped from the "iconic" level of 32,000.

She stressed that the force needs to be "well-funded" but said she would not be "waving a shroud", acknowledging that further savings could be made.

In a round of media interviews in her second week as Met Police Commissioner, Ms Dick singled out efforts to tackle rising levels of knife and gun crime as a key priority.

Figures released last week showed jumps across a number of violent offence categories in the capital over the last year- reigniting the debate over resources.

The force has closed dozens of police stations and lost hundreds of staff as it made savings totalling hundreds of millions of pounds since 2010, although officer numbers have remained broadly steady.

Ms Dick, the first female commissioner in the history of the Met, said: " For the future, we don't know the scale of further savings we are going to have to make.

"We made, as I understand it, £600m worth of savings already. That's a lot of money. I think the Met needs to be well-funded and I will make the arguments for that.

"London is quite different. Our communities are very complex, they change very quickly. The population is growing, we have some different crime challenges.

"We have a large proportion of the counter-terrorist effort. We have high levels of organised crime.

"I will make the argument for resources but we all know we are living in austere times. At the end of the day these will be political decisions.

"I won't be waving a shroud, I will be just be giving my professional advice. I think we can make some further savings.

"I am confident that the Met at the end of my commissionership might be smaller but could be as effective, if not more effective, through amongst other things the use of technology and different ways of working."

Asked if there could be fewer police officers at the end of her spell in the post, she said this was possible.

The 56-year-old added: " We've had the somewhat iconic figure of 32,000 around in public consciousness for some time.

"The Met has not actually been at 32,000 for many months as I understand it. I do think it's possible that we will have fewer officers. I am confident that we can still have a very, very effective police service."

The statistics released by the Met last week showed increases in gun and knife crime of 42% and 24% respectively in 2016/17.

"The figures worry me. I want to bear down across the wide spectrum of violent crime," Ms Dick told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"If it is the case that gun crime and knife crime are going up, that is of huge concern to me and it will mark out my commissionership trying to bear down on violence in general and those two crimes in particular."


From Belfast Telegraph