Only one in five calls to Britain’s biggest police force are actually about crime, the head of the Metropolitan Police has said.
Sir Mark Rowley said he plans to begin “pushing back” on dealing with non-police issues such as mental health callouts.
He told delegates at the joint annual summit of the National Police Chiefs’s Council and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners that only 22% of calls the Metropolitan Police receives are about crime.
Sir Mark also said that the force had suffered “death by 1,000 paper cuts” because of the levels of bureaucracy involved in recording crime.
He told reporters: “Some of the officers I talked to are more worried about getting in trouble for not filling in forms correctly than they are confronting dangerous people on the streets.”
Chairman of the NPCC Martin Hewitt told the summit that around seven extra officers could be deployed to every force in England and Wales if the number of staff involved in crime recording could be cut by half.
It was estimated last year that around 1,200 staff were involved in crime recording compliance, at an annual cost of £47million.
Mr Hewitt said that in England and Wales, around half of calls to police forces are about crime.
He said: “There are various figures and estimates but I don’t think there is any doubt that over half of all calls for service we receive are something other than a crime.
“Some are entirely legitimate police activity, but a substantial proportion see police stepping in to health and social work because of an absence of other service provision.
“This issue has been raised at every one of these summits and I, and many others, have discussed it with every recent home secretary and policing minister.
“But there has been no meaningful change – and that needs to happen if we are to improve crime reduction and detection rates.”
The Home Office has commissioned a review of productivity in policing that will be led by Met officer and former Police Scotland chief Sir Stephen House.
She said: “I am concerned that crime recording requirements can be seen as too complex and burdensome.
“I am committed to working with the police to see how recording can be simplified without compromising on putting victims first.
“I also want to see policing and the National Health Service work better together to support individuals experiencing acute mental health distress so that people in need of medical help get the right care at the right time, while also reducing inappropriate demand on policing.”