Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180 - 184)



180.  And do you think you can do it within this financial year?

  (Sir John Stevens) I think the key to it is the delegated authority for the borough commanders. We are going to have six boroughs delegated, in terms of the authority they have got, both finance and personnel, starting in April of this year; once we have got that bedded into the Metropolitan Police and we know we are not making massive mistakes, in terms of our finance and the way we are delivering on the operational side, we will bring that then across to the Met. So it will not be this year, but the controls are there this year, but I am talking about the model that we want for the rest of the Metropolitan Police will not be there for a couple of years. But there is a lot of work going on at the moment, we have recruited chartered accountants, which we have not had before, we have not had, quite honestly, the expertise to deal with issues that we should have done, and we are pushing ahead with that. We have recruited something like 22, over the last five to six months; we had only two or three qualified accountants in the Metropolitan Police.

181.  So there was a lot of fat before, that has now been cut out, has it, and it is being audited properly, in the way that perhaps it was not done in the past?

  (Mr Luck) In fact, we are audited now, like any other local authority, by district audit; in fact, it is fair to say that the National Audit Office had not had a timetable, a deadline, by which it needed to audit the Met's accounts, and, indeed, was in a catch-up situation, I think there were some five annual audits still outstanding at the time when the Greater London Authority and the Metropolitan Police Authority came into being. Indeed, I used to receive the report in the early months, month on month, that said, "Not really much progress since last year," when, in fact, those reports were just coming out one month after each other. As the Commissioner has said, there has been a considerable amount done to look critically at the support service cost, to look at the level of overhead in the Met, and, indeed, Sir John has already talked about the level of savings achieved, really, I suppose, in the last receivership, and also, now, into the first couple of years, £20 million expenditure savings a year in this current organisation. Next year will be a greater challenge, because we are looking at some £60 million savings that need to be found, and a reduction of £10 million on the police overtime, in order to balance the books; and out of the budget that we can impact, within a year, that is £60 million out of £600 million. Because, although it is nearly a £200 billion budget, you cannot do much in the short term about the police officer numbers, in fact they are going up and we need to support that; we cannot do anything about pensions in payments, there are a number of outsource contracts that you really cannot impact within a 12-month period. So we are looking at about 10 per cent savings out of that part of the budget which we can impact on the year.

182.  And you think you can do that without any reduction in the services?

  (Sir John Stevens) Well, it will be a matter of priorities again. What worries me is to make sure we have got enough money, and I know that the Authority and the Mayor are all aware of this, to do proactive work, and that means making sure that we have got enough money, bearing in mind our demands at the moment for overtime. And the other part about overtime, quite honestly, is the business that not all people want to work it; some in our Firearms Unit, at the moment, are working four or five rest days out of six or seven, which is unacceptable. So the organisation is at stretch, make no mistake about it, and I invite anybody here on the Committee to go and have a look and see what is happening in the Metropolitan Police at the present time. We are at stretch. But I believe, if we get the proper financial controls in, that it should not, hopefully, impact, and it must not impact, on our delivery on boroughs, all our specialised squads, we must not allow that to happen; we would have to take the pain elsewhere.


183.  Gentlemen, in conclusion, can I just say that in the next few days we are going to start looking at the Police Reform Bill, so any precise suggestions you have got for things you would like to see that are not in it that should be, or for amendments to things that are in it, the quicker you can let us know the better, and we will pursue those points.

  (Sir John Stevens) Chairman, we will be in touch, and, also, the issues that we raised, we will be in touch with you with that in the next two days.

184.  Yes, I am especially interested in what we can do to streamline the discipline process?

  (Sir John Stevens) Yes.

  Chairman: Thank you very much for coming.

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