London Mayor Boris Johnson has lifted a recruitment freeze at Scotland Yard amid difficult questions over the force’s financial future.
The Tory politician said an extra £42 million will mean 32,510 full time officers will be employed by May 2012.
He said the force is bucking a trend seen across England and Wales as chief constables cut numbers and slash costs to save cash.
But the news means only a handful of posts will be up for grabs as the latest figures showed there were 32,481 officers policing the capital. Police projections also revealed the number of officers is likely to fall by April 2013 to 31,913 and 31,800 the following year.
Mr Johnson revealed the move at City Hall as members of the London Assembly met for a marathon six-hour meeting to debate the budget.
He said: “I believe we can go further in bearing down on crime so in my budget I am proposing to increase funding for the Met by £42 million. This investment means that as of next week we are starting up recruitment again for the Met in order to reach a target of 32,510 full time warranted police officers. By the end of my first term of office London will have significantly more police officers that I inherited in 2008.”
Senior officers across England and Wales will be watching developments in London carefully as the Tory-run administration is a significant bellwether.
Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse will assume control of a new office, the Mayor’s Office of Police and Crime, in place of the Metropolitan Police Authority by October 1. He will effectively become the country’s first police and crime commissioner, with elections expected to take place for other forces in May 2012.
Senior officers have been battling to save hundreds of millions of pounds from the Met’s £3.6 billion budget as Government ministers demand savings.
Labour member John Biggs, chair of the budget committee, said there appeared to be “more severe cuts from next year onwards”. He pointed out the cuts would bite after the mayoral election, due to take place on May 3, and the London Olympic Games next year.