12 October 2022

Met boss has ‘concerns’ over speed of hiring thousands of new police officers

12 October 2022

The boss of the Metropolitan Police said he is reviewing the force’s recruitment targets after questioning whether it is “wise” to hire thousands of new officers at speed.

Scotland Yard is meant to bring in 4,557 extra officers by the end of March next year as part of the Government’s national drive to hire 20,000 more across England and Wales to replace thousands of jobs cut during austerity measures.

But asked whether he expects to fulfil the target, Sir Mark Rowley told the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee on Wednesday that he is carrying out a review of recruitment and is “concerned” about the speed of hiring new officers.

Speaking to the committee for the first time since being appointed Met Commissioner, he said: “I’m doing a review on that at the moment looking at a) can we recruit that many and b) can we do it with the quality that’s required and bring them into the organisation in a way that doesn’t destabilise them?

“There’s multiple factors there.

“Just recruiting headlong without making sure you’re bringing the right people in, giving them the best start, the best training and an organisation that’s able to support them and deploy them properly, all of those issues are important and I’m concerned about whether it’s wise to go at exactly that speed and that’s why I’m reviewing it.”

In June, inspectors from police watchdog His Majesty’s Inspectorate of the Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) said problems at the Met had been exacerbated by the number of young and inexperienced recruits in the force as a result of the recruitment drive.

Three months earlier, the then-chief inspector of constabulary, Sir Thomas Winsor, reiterated warnings that the “sheer magnitude and speed” of the recruitment campaign “inevitably carries risks”, adding that there is a “heightened danger that people unsuited to policing may get through and be recruited”.

Describing vetting as being of “enormous importance”, he told reporters it is “essential” that recruitment and continual monitoring of the police workforce is of the “highest standard”.

The interim findings of a review being led by Baroness Casey looking at the Met’s culture – which was commissioned by ex-boss Dame Cressida Dick – are due to be published within the next week or so, Sir Mark said.

He also said the force is in the process of issuing staff with work phones to make sure they have the “right technology” needed to do the job.

Officers have been resorting to using their personal phones for work because of a lack of equipment or up-to-date technology which is “not a good idea” for several reasons, he told the committee.

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