UK

Britain’s biggest police force heading for lowest staffing level in a decade

In March 2025 there will be 310 police officers per 100,000 Londoners, down from 350 in March 2012, and 342 in March 2023.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley’s report painted a bleak picture of resource and demand levels for the force
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley’s report painted a bleak picture of resource and demand levels for the force (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Britain’s biggest police force is heading for its lowest staffing levels in a decade by March next year.

According to a report by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, the shortfall is partly due to inadequate funding and low recruitment.

Plans to reform the troubled force will have to slow as the Met faces a budget hole of £400 million in 2025/26, the document submitted to the London Policing Board said.

Frontline teams are being placed under “high operational strain” by having to deal with large-scale protests in London, which cost £70 million last year, and there is increased demand for dealing with violence against women and girls.

Sir Mark wrote: “By March 2025, there will be 310 police officers per 100,000 Londoners. In March 2012, this was at 350 police officers. This position is projected to worsen and trend towards our lowest point of the last decade.

“This is being driven in part by inadequate funding and by low recruitment over recent years due to the rising cost of living in London relative to other parts of the UK, and other challenges.”

The Metropolitan Police spent £70 million policing protests in London last year
The Metropolitan Police spent £70 million policing protests in London last year (David Parry/PA)

Figures in the report show a sharp drop since March 2023 – going from 342 officers per 100,000 Londoners that year, to 330 in March this year and 310 in March 2025.

Data including police staff show a similar picture, going from 497 in 2012 and 443 in March 2023 to 434 in March this year and a projected 412 next year.

The Met was already 1,400 officers below a staffing target set by the Home Office at the end of 2023/24, and this is expected to drop a further 1,250 by the end of 2024/25.

Force bosses already have plans to move 300 officers out of back office roles in a bid to help plug the gap.

The report said an application for £70 million from the Home Office to release around 1,000 officers from desk jobs was refused.