Met Police hit by 272 swine flu cases

Britain's largest police force has been struck by 272 cases of suspected swine flu, it emerged today.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said the number remains a small proportion of the overall workforce.

But he admitted senior officers have formed a special group to monitor how rising numbers could affect the organisation.

Speaking at City Hall today, Sir Paul said there are "robust structures" in place to ensure London continues to be policed effectively.

He said: "As of Wednesday there have been 272 reported cases of suspected or confirmed pandemic flu among police officers and staff at the Met.

"To put that in perspective our current absence level is 220 officers and staff which is 0.5% of the workforce.

"The amount of time staff are away from work as a result of this particular ailment is six days per person. We have a gold group considering how this may pan out for us as an organisation.

"A lot of work we have been doing in business continuity in recent years is extremely useful, especially when there is something which may reach more significant proportions."

The Metropolitan Police employs about 31,000 officers, 14,000 civilian staff, 414 traffic wardens and 4,000 community support officers.

Chief Inspector Graham Stokes was one of several emergency planners to attend a meeting about the potential impact of swine flu on the capital earlier this week.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, who chaired the meeting, said a huge amount is being done to ensure public services are not disrupted.

Earlier this month it was reported that a senior Metropolitan Police employee responsible for security at the Houses of Parliament was struck down by the illness.