The Metropolitan Police plans to fill thousands of officer roles needed for the London Olympics with unpaid specials and to "beg, borrow and steal" officers from neighbouring forces, Personnel Today has learned.
But the Police Federation, which estimates 1,000 additional officers will be required each day to cope with much-needed security and crowd control, warned the plans drawn up so far could backfire, as volunteer special constables could drop out at the last minute, causing significant staffing problems.
Geoff Stuttaford, a Met inspector who sits on the Police Federation's Olympics working group, told Personnel Today: "It could be a problem if the specials decide they don't want to come to work. There's nothing you can say to change their minds as they are volunteers. Forces could be left short if they don't turn up. We have got some problems with that already."
He added: "One of our concerns is we have already got mechanisms in place to draw staff in from other forces, but policing and life goes on and they need to leave sufficient numbers behind to deal with it. They have still got the day job to carry on with."
Policing the Olympics
Home Office budget to cover security for the London Olympics
Increase in the number of special constables to be hired
Number of police officers in the UK
However, HR director Martin Tiplady said the force was planning to more than double the number of special constables from 2,700 to about 7,000 by 2012, as well as temporarily poaching officers from nearby forces. He stressed that hiring extra PCs for the event was unnecessary.
Tiplady said: "We won't recruit more staff for the Olympics. How we utilise staff will be different and how other forces help us will be key. We are looking at where there are gaps and how we can plug those gaps."
He added that "a lot of people will be on overtime" during the Olympics, but refused to outline how much this would cost the force.
Speaking to delegates at the HR Business Summit last week, Tiplady admitted that although his HR function was focused on workforce planning for the Olympics, this was "not yet robust enough for 2012".
"I need to move quickly to sharpen and create a workforce plan legacy that is required," he said. "All of that is what my HR is currently deeply involved in."
The Met Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers are currently working on the 'Demand and Resource' project, looking at the number of officers that will be needed to police the Olympics and in which areas.
The Association of Chief Police Officers has insisted it is “confident” that plans for policing the Olympics will “ensure that core policing will not suffer”.