The Met Police has denied press reports that it plans to axe 400 uniformed officers.
A spokesman told Personnel Today there were plans for civilians to take the jobs of custody officers. But she stressed there would be no job cuts and described the 400 figure reported in the press as a “red herring”.
Under the plans, civilian staff will step into the role of designated detention officers (DDO) to help improve safety and efficiency in custody suites. This will free up custody sergeants so that they can become more strategic.
She said: “Back in September deputy commissioner Tim Godwin attended the Greater London Authority’s budget and performance committee to update them on the Met’s budget for next year and beyond.
“In answers to the questions the deputy commissioner restated plans for Operation Herald, the replacement of police officers in custody suites with dedicated detention officers and custody nurses.”
So far 220 DDOs have been employed by the Met in 21 boroughs, with a total of 900 positions expected to be in place for the roll-out to all boroughs by 2013.
The Met said each custody suite would eventually have a minimum of six DDOs and at least one custody sergeant.
“DDOs are being introduced in custody suites in order that they can take over some of the administrative duties that custody sergeants currently carry out, freeing up the latter to play a more strategic role,” the spokeswoman said.
“Sergeants will still oversee custody suites and retain responsibility for risk assessment and care plans, but the additional resource of DDOs will give them more time to oversee custody areas, and help them to manage them more effectively.”
HR director Martin Tiplady told the magazine that frontline jobs would only be cut once all other options to save money had been “exploited”.