Scotland Yard chiefs were told today it is extraordinary officers caught policing protests without identification badges escape with a "slap on the wrist".
Members of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) said senior officers are not taking the issue of ensuring frontline colleagues can be recognised seriously enough.
They claimed a rogue officer could repeatedly get away with acts of violence if bosses do not clamp down on those who fail to follow the rules.
The issue of police number badges was thrown into the spotlight when a handful of officers caught up in violent clashes during G20 protests were photographed without them.
Senior officers said formal discipline was probably not appropriate as badges can fall off or officers may forget to attach them as they change clothing.
Dee Doocey, a member of the MPA, said the force should spend less money on workshops and more on simple things such as identification badges.
She said: "I find it quite extraordinary that an officer who does not wear their numerals gets basically a slap on the wrist.
"I think it is really important that everyone can identify an officer. If someone is bashing you with a shield, it is quite nice to know who they are."
Fellow MPA member, Clive Lawton, said an officer who wants to cause trouble could get away with being "cavalier" about their identification.
He said: "It suggests that the individual who is reluctant to be identified could get away with it on two or three occasions without being ticked off."
It emerged today that the Met has spent more than £40,000 on number badges for specialist public-order officers since the G20 protests.
Officers have complained that traditional metal numbers, known as numerals, can be easily knocked off, often by seatbelts.
They also point out that public-order officers wear several layers of protective clothing and it is easy to forget to transfer epaulettes between items.
Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison, who has overall responsibility for public-order policing at the force, admitted the subject is "emotive".
But he said only a tiny number of officers have been found without number badges and the majority should be dealt with by "words of advice".
Mr Allison said: "We need to ensure, whatever piece of kit they have got on, they have got their epaulettes on.
"That is a close, intrusive supervision issue. I do not think the discipline route is one to go down."
He added: "When you look back at our video and media clips of G20, the overwhelming majority of officers were completely correctly dressed.
"I am aware of one news group having done a review of everything they have got and they could not find an officer without numerals on."
The senior officer was speaking at a meeting of a civil liberties panel that has been recently formed by the MPA, the force's board of governors.
Members have launched a review of the changes that have taken place in policing demonstrations as a result of criticism of the G20 operation.
It is the latest in a long line of reviews and investigations examining the actions of officers of all ranks during the April meeting of world leaders.Reuse content