Yesterday morning the MPA decided to endorse changes to the way that the Met recruits its officers. Under the new system the vast majority of recruits will be drawn from the Met Special Constabulary and from the Met PCSOs.
The measures will save the MPA between £10,000-£20,000 per recruit, recently the met have recruited up to 2,000 officer per year. If this scheme had been in place we would have saved around £12,000,000 per year. With the last government leaving the Home Secretary a huge financial black hole to deal with, a £12million saving cannot be overlooked.
But this isn't just about saving money, there are a number of factors which converge around this issue. The Met has a demographic hump that is working its way through the force, because of a spike in recruitment about 30 years ago we have a large number of officers coming to their retirement dates at about the same time. When they leave they will need to be replaced and the current system isn't very good at producing significant numbers of officers quickly.
The other demographic issue in the Met is around diversity, the Met Special Constabulary has a higher proportion of BME and female officers than the full time force. Finding a way to get the police to more closely reflect the communities they serve has been a nut that the leadership of the Met and the MPA have been trying to crack for years, these changes look like they could help address the current imbalance without compromising the quality of the Met's recruits. The plan has the support of the Met Police Federation and the Met Black Police Association.
My friend and colleague Tony Arbour AM described this plan as "the Holy Grail", it will produce better results than the current system for less money.
Funny then that a number of MPA members from left wing parties opposed it. Their main criticism was that it would favour "middle class" recruits because people on lower incomes wouldn't be able to spend the time volunteering as Specials. The problem with that argument is that it just isn't supported by the facts, the Specials are more diverse that the full time Met and the free travel concession that Specials receive is more significant a perk to lower income officers than those on higher incomes.
I've been really impressed by the imagination that the Met have displayed over this issue and have been disappointed (but not surprised) by how reactionary the left wingers have been.
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