According to figures from the Metropolitan Police Authority on March 31st 2008, just before Ken Livingstone was voted out as Mayor of London there were 31,398 police officers. The budgeted figure for this year is 32,320. So there are nearly a thousand more full time police officers with Boris Johnson than there were with Ken Livingstone.

But the increase in the number of volunteer Special Constables is much more dramatic. The last figure under Ken Livingstone, 31/3/08 showed the number was 2,510. It is now over 5,000 and is on course to reach 6,667 by next year. Often the media ignore Special Constables when reporting on police numbers as if Special Constables don't count. But they do. They are real police officers who wear a uniform and have the power to arrest people. They may be part time but when on duty they are on the front line not behind a desk.

Their importance was highlighted by the Mayor's brother in the House of Commons:

Joseph Johnson (Orpington) (Con): Will the Prime Minister join me in paying tribute to the 1,300 voluntary special constables who played a vital part in restoring calm in the capital on Tuesday? Will he also take note that many special constables, including one in my constituency, Orpington, struggled to secure permission from their employer to enable them to take part in the surge effort, which was eventually so successful?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is entirely right. There has recently been a growth in specials in some forces and that is hugely welcome, but we need employers to show a sense of social responsibility to release them rapidly for service when they are needed.

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