London needs at least 3,000 more police officers to tackle high levels of crime, the chairman on the Metropolitan Police Federation has said.

Ken Marsh, a former Haringey police officer, said the city must reverse the “horrendous cuts” imposed by central government, and return the force to levels seen during the 2012 Olympics.

There are currently 30,000 police officers in London, down from 33,000 seven years ago. The Met has said it is on track to reach 31,000 police by the end of this year.

Speaking on Sky News on Saturday, Mr Marsh welcomed the new Prime Minister’s pledge to recruit 20,000 more police across the country – but stressed that changes could not be made immediately.

He said: “What we’ve got to get across very clearly is that this will not happen immediately.

“We’re putting out the perception to the public that on Monday morning you’re going to see thousands more police. You will not.

“It will take a long time for us to get back from where the Tory government reduced us to.”

Mr Marsh told the Local Democracy Reporting service that high living costs in the capital made London unattractive to new police recruits in comparison to other regions

He said: “We are doing our utmost to get back up to the levels we had before these horrendous cuts which stripped all our colleagues from the streets of London.

“But all the other forces are also recruiting and the cost of living in London is much higher than elsewhere. You can do the maths yourself.”

Labour’s City Hall crime lead, Unmesh Desai, agreed that recruiting more police in the capital would take time.

He said: “The stark reality is that it will take up to three years for the Met to be able to even begin to fill the hole left by years of swingeing Government cuts to their budget.”

But Susan Hall, Conservative crime spokesperson at City Hall, said the Mayor had failed to set aside enough funding for police, and had not recruited as many officers as he budgeted for last year.

She said: “Knowing what’s going on in London and how crime is soaring he could easily have diverted more money into policing.

“Clearly he just wants to bash the Government – to want to do that in the face of what’s happening on our streets is absolutely outrageous.”

But Ms Hall admitted that Conservative government cuts to police had gone too far.

She said: “I accept unreservedly we should never have cut the police to the extent we did.

“We have been pushing the Government for a while to increase policing through the country and I’m absolutely delighted there will now be a change.”