Met Police cancels 330,000 officer rest days as it tackles surge in knife crime and police cuts

Scotland Yard has cancelled nearly 330,000 officer rest days in nine months as it battles a surge in violent crime and falling police numbers, figures show. 

The total cancellations for 2018 is set to exceed last year’s 375,012, despite major events in 2017 such as terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower blaze. 

By September, 328,010 days of holiday had been cancelled since the start of January, according to the figures obtained from the Mayor.

Separate data shows there were 523 voluntary resignations by officers in the first nine months, compared with 294 in all of 2010. 

Ken Marsh, of the Met Police Federation, said: “There is massive pressure … they are run ragged on a daily basis and they are being restricted on their annual leave because of the shortage of officers. We are seeing cases of stress-related illnesses. I don’t know how much longer it can go on like this.” 

The rise in violent crime has led to increased pressure on specialist units, while more local borough officers are needed to guard crime scenes.

The figure comes weeks after the launch of a Met recruitment drive for 2,500 officers to boost the force to 30,700. The total has fallen to about 29,500, the lowest for more than a decade.

Senior officers say they are struggling to recruit because of low unemployment with possible applicants deterred by the £22,000 starting salary. 

The Met has been forced to make £720 million in savings since 2010, and faces more cuts of up to £325 million. 

Urging the Government to boost funding, Labour’s London Assembly member for policing, Unmesh Desai, who obtained the data, said: “If demand continues to outweigh resource, there could be serious consequences for the wellbeing of police officers and for the safety of Londoners.”

A Met spokesman said it has been “responding to increased demand with fewer officers… Unfortunately events in London can mean that police rest days are sometimes cancelled. We work hard to minimise this… We are recruiting heavily… to respond to the increased demand and reduce the pressure on our committed officers and staff.”
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