Filling in at the budget monitoring sub committee this morning. We took evidence from the police and fire services, reviewing their first quarter financial management.
The police were represented by Paul James from their finance team who told us that there had been two events that proved to be an unexpected drain on the police budget. The first was the Tamil demonstration outside Parliament which would be funded from reserves. The second was the G20 demonstration in the City of London. Reimbursement of over £3 million was being sought from the Home Office to cover the cost of diplomatic protection and security for the summit.
Savings were also anticipated, in particular from the introduction of virtual courts.
The pilot scheme sees 15 police stations across South London connected to Camberwell Green Magistrate's Court so that hearings can take place remotely, saving the cost of ferrying the suspects to court in a police van. Whilst most cases could be dealt with this way the pilot is focussed on the initial hearings that precede full trials. Potentially the time from charging a suspect to a court appearance can be reduced to three hours, cutting through the backlog of cases and saving court time.
Justice is done and seen to be done. There is even the theoretical possibility of making the on line exchanges publicly available although this would require primary legislation and the Met wisely refused to be drawn into this debate.