The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is to temporarily recruit from outside London for six months in a bid to attract 2,500 more officers.
(Published in Police Professional)
The force is looking to recruit double the number of officers it did last year.
It is the first time in more than four years that those living outside London have been able to apply. In August 2014, residency in London for a minimum of three of the past six years was required to be eligible to join.
The reason for the London residency policy was that knowledge of London and its communities was a huge asset to new recruits, but in fact the financial practicalities of London’s extremely expensive housing market caused problems for those starting on a constable’s salary, and the alternative of paying for the transport for those residing outside the capital proved very costly to the MPS.
The force has also said that the London residency qualification enabled it to recruit significantly more officers of black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
A parliamentary briefing paper, Police Service Strength, published on October 16 showed that to March 31 this year, the MPS was ranked first in the number of officers per head of population, with 352 officers per 100,000, although it is generally accepted that policing the capital it has greater demands and threats in volume than any other force, especially from terrorism and serious and organised crime.
The MPS usually recruits around 1,800 officers a year, but the MPS says that it is in “a period of significant growth in a very buoyant London employment market” and is looking to double last year’s recruitment numbers.
MPS Commissioner Cressida Dick recently implemented two policy changes with the launch of the ‘Do Something Real’ campaign to boost recruitment: improvements to the package for candidates so they can avoid upfront payments for their initial qualification and get paid to study for it; and a partial relaxation to its policy on visible tattoos.
The Detective Pathway and Special Constable schemes are also continuing over the next year to facilitate different ways to join the force.
The force is still actively driving to recruit more officers from those still living in London.
Ms Dick said: “If you are a Londoner we absolutely still value your local knowledge and we continue to want to attract individuals who reflect the best of London.
“However, we of course recognise that there are people who are passionate about serving, protecting and working with London’s diverse communities who may live outside of our city so during this period of growth this is a really exciting opportunity to come and join us.”
Funding is naturally key to the new campaign, and London’s City Hall has allocated an extra £140 million to pay for an additional 1,000 officers.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Both the Commissioner and I are firmly committed to ensuring the Metropolitan Police is fully reflective of the diversity that we celebrate in London.
“But it’s no secret that our population has increased, while London faces huge policing challenges from a changing terror threat to tackling violent crime. It means we need to significantly boost the number of officers we recruit to police the capital.”