More strikes make it harder for the police to fight crime, says Met chief
Strikes could make it more difficult for officers to fight crime, warned the chief of the Metropolitan Police.
Writing in The Telegraph, Sir Mark Rowley argued that whenever any public sector service goes on strike “it’s hard to imagine that more work won’t potentially overflow in our direction”.
The UK’s most senior police officer believed public sector strikes would also exacerbate issues within the police force, such as officers spending too much time on “non-police work”.
He writes that “police officers are spending too much time doing social and health work” in the place of other agencies who “have for many reasons stepped back”.
This includes spending hours in hospitals dealing with people with mental health conditions, which he fears would worsen if strikes continued across the capital.
He highlighted that, for every mental health patient given police help, two officers spend an average of 14 hours in total waiting with them in hospital.
Meanwhile, the number of people being sectioned by police under the Mental Health Act has more than quadrupled since 2013.
His remarks follow continued strikes across London’s tube and rail networks, and the looming threat of strikes by many public sector workers, including nurses, with action expected to start by the end of the year.
Rowley also warned the Met needs a 27 per cent budget increase “just to stand still” compared with 10 years ago.
However, with the Government set to announce spending reductions in the Autumn Statement next week, he recognised it might not be “realistic in the current climate” to fix the challenges with extra funding.