Metropolitan Police officers 'living in ghettos'

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Metropolitan police officers
Image caption,
Kit Malthouse said elected commissioners could help build relations with the public

Metropolitan Police (Met) officers are living in "ghettos" in Surrey and Hertfordshire because of fears of living in London, the chairman of the Met Police Authority has said.

Kit Malthouse added officers "don't like to travel in uniform because they don't want to be identified".

He said a growing divide between police and the public, is not yet at dangerous levels "but may well become so".

Mr Malthouse was speaking to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.

Mr Malthouse, who is also London's deputy mayor with responsibility for policing and crime, said: "Police officers now, certainly Metropolitan Police officers, often want to live in police ghettos, villages in Surrey and Hertfordshire, which are disproportionately over-populated with police officers because they like to live together."

He said the growing divide between police and the public could be seen "in all sorts of ways".

Officers and police community support officers "now don't like to travel in uniform because they don't want to be identified", he said, referring to an incident in Croydon, south London, two years ago in which two officers were attacked by "a baying mob" after confronting two young girls over dropping litter.

"No one came to their aid, quite the opposite," he said.

"The public feel as if they have less and less investment in the police service.

"That sense of investment, and that sense of ownership of the police, has somehow deteriorated."

Giving evidence on the proposed role for directly elected police and crime commissioners, which will not apply in the capital where London Mayor Boris Johnson oversees the Met, Mr Malthouse added that "putting a cross in the box, making a positive vote for somebody" might help improve the relationship".

"To me, that individual is there to act as an interlocutor between the public and the police," he said.

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