London

New Met Police officers 'recruited from volunteers'

The governing body of the Metropolitan Police has endorsed the force's plans to recruit new officers from its pool of volunteer special constables.

The change means two-thirds of recruits would now have to work for 18 months in the unpaid role before applying.

The rest would come from the Met's community support officers, or have law and policing qualifications.

Some members of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) said the change could put off people from joining the police.

The proposals, which were put before the MPA by the Met's head of human resources Martin Tiplady, was ratified by 12 votes to six.

Mr Tiplady said the move was the "right way forward".

He said: "This will also deliver savings of between £12,000 and £20,000 per officer in salary costs during their training period. More importantly, our future police officer recruits will hit the ground running with full patrol status at the outset.

"This approach simply allows those considering a career as an officer to sample the job and acquire the right skills."

'Middle-class officers'

Kit Malthouse, chairman of the MPA, said the changes would lead to "better prepared police at lower cost" and was necessary because of the "financial jam" public services were in.

But the move was criticised by Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat representatives.

For Labour, John Biggs said the plan was "fundamentally flawed" as it would put people off applying because of the "hoops" they would have to jump through.

Liberal Democrat member Dee Doocey said the move would lead to the recruitment of middle-class people who had spare time to volunteer for the police.

Last year, the Met recruited 2,000 new officers, taking its total complement to more than 31,000.

Currently, police recruits are paid a salary of at least £23,000 during their first two years and receive 25 weeks of foundation training.

Under the revised system most of the applicants would have to work for 18 months as special constables first.

Cash savings

Special constables wear the same uniform as regular officers and have the same powers and responsibilities and have to commit to work 16 hours a month.

Police community support officers (PCSOs), who do not powers of arrest, and people who cannot become special constables can apply to join once they have a recognised qualification in law and policing.

The Met also wants to advertise jobs in "discrete, time-limited recruitment campaigns".

According to the briefing paper for the MPA: "The proposal will result in significant cash savings, improve local service provision and provide participants with a range of transferable skills."

Similar recruitment schemes have been piloted or are being considered by forces including Surrey, Lancashire and Greater Manchester Police.

The BBC's home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw says it is understood a review of police training in England and Wales, ordered by the home secretary, will call for a pre-entry qualification for all recruits, as there is in nursing.

Like other government departments, the Home Office - which funds the police - could be facing cuts of about 25%.

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