The Metropolitan Police spend up to £100 every time a light bulb needs changing, figures have revealed.
The force has admitted paying the sum to a maintenance firm if a light bulb “urgently” needs replacing – in “non-urgent” cases a fee of £26 is paid, but this is still many times the cost of a normal light bulb.
The figures were highlighted by Victoria Morgan, director of procurement at the Met Police, after they were requested by barrister Jessica Learmond-Criqui.
Ms Morgan was angered by the fact that the details emerged at a time when budgets are being cut and up to 65 police stations across London face closure.
A police source told the Sunday People: “In the current financial climate the thin blue line is being stretched even more tightly than ever.
"Across the public sector it’s very much a case of every penny counting, and surely we have to make sure we’ve got the best resources possible to catch criminals.
“While officers appreciate health and safety regulations and so forth are par for the course, it still seems a nonsense to pay £100 to change a light bulb – whether the situation is ‘urgent’ or otherwise.”
Budget cuts have seen the total number of police officers reach their lowest figures in over a decade, according to official figures published in January.
There were 128,351 police officers in the 43 police forces across England and Wales on 30 September 2013, the lowest number since September 2002.
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, told the Sunday People: “It’s utterly crazy that the Met would even consider wasting so much money on changing a light bulb.
“This sounds like the punch line to a bad joke yet the bill to taxpayers is no laughing matter.
“Poorly negotiated contracts that result in inflated costs for ordinary tasks should be scrapped.”
A Met spokesman said the services were contracted out to maintenance firm Interserve.
He said the fee can vary depending on the bulb and the position of the lamp and that “health and safety and security” can also “impact on cost”.