We must have pissed off some journalists this week, they keep writing stories about how much tax-payer’s cash we are abusing. The crime editor at the Times is up in arms because the Met pay up to Ã‚Â£24million a year to rail companies to provide it’s officers with free travel.
The concession allows 31,000 Met officers to travel to & from work on the trains (within 50 miles of London) & also to make journeys on & off duty. The scheme costs the Met Ã‚Â£16million last year but they also have to pay a further Ã‚Â£8million to the treasury because the scheme is seen as a taxable perk.
The free travel perk has been vital in attracting officers to the capital, whilst London bobbies get some 5-6 grand above other forces for the London weighting, this could be significantly diminished if they also had to pay transport costs.
Forces which surround London could be forgiven for hoping that the people who hold the purse strings for the Met do tighten up & do away with the scheme; it will do a great deal to stop the Met leaching officers trained by other forces who then transfer to London for the extra dosh.
The free travel scheme was started in 1970 & was designed to get more police officers on the networks who were (and are) expected to step in to any situations they may come across both on & off duty.
As the cash-counters demand more & more costs savings, many within the police service around the capital are watching this one with interest. I suspect several chief constables are hoping the scheme is ended whereupon they can welcome back thousands of officers into their folds, except that their books will be full due to budget constraints & an awful lot of Met officers will be several grand worse off with nowhere to go.