Cor Blimey I wanna be a cop (Fed)

`Ello me old china, let me have a gander at that job application for the Old Bill before you pop off down the frog to get yer barnet cut.

Still with me?

You may not need to be a cockney or understand rhyming slang,  but it seems the current Mayor of London and the Metropolitan Police would like to resurrect the policy of only recruiting from people who live in London. This is based on the premise that they know London issues better than anyone who lives outside London. This policy was tried a few years ago under the previous Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan – Howe, who hails from Sheffield and it may return under Dame Cressida Dick who comes from Oxford. I wonder how many of the Mets current senior leadership team were born in London. Not many from the ones I know and not many of their predecessors either. I worked with many of them and found them to be highly competent and professional in their roles, despite the fact they were not a Londoner. If being from London and knowing community issues is so key to policing, then why has it not been a requirement of any of the previous Commissioners or members of the senior management team? Surely if you are going to lead policing in an area, then on this proposal, a local person would be better than a senior officer from outside London? Unless that would prevent career progression in the upper ranks of policing……  

This resurrected policy failed the first time and prevented many excellent candidates from being able to join just because they did not have a London postcode as their current address. I personally know children of serving Met officers who were unable to apply to join and follow the career path chosen by mum and dad. Their parents had moved outside of London due to house prices combined with raising a family and the children were rejected under the residential criteria because they no longer lived in London.

I also knew of some who had gone off to university after growing up in London and parents had then moved outside of London. After finishing university, they applied for the Met but because their parents address was now outside of London they were rejected, despite being born in London and living there until they were 18. Conversely, someone who had lived in London for the previous two years and had a current London address could apply, so two years residency appears to count more than 18 years education and lived experience….who will really know and understand London better?

The residential policy will prevent many potential excellent candidates from joining the Met, some county forces will welcome this news!  

This poorly thought out residential policy is also combined with a target figure of 40% of Police recruits into the Met to be from BAME applicants. That figure will never be realised and most certainly not if it is combined with the residency criteria, they tried it before and after two years the number of applicants started to reduce. I hope this does not become a target driven process to the detriment of the quality and standards required for Police recruits. London deserves the best Police officers it can attract, not just those who live in London and are predominantly from the BAME community.  Surely if you are on a significant recruitment campaign so that policing can return to a sustainable establishment figure, then you need to widen your target audience not restrict it?

Balance, fairness, and proportionality used to be key words in Policing and these policies do not appear to fit any of those.  

Policing should not be about targets or being visually reflective of a particular community but should have police officers who are capable of responding and dealing with communities concerns and fears. The fact someone has lived in one part of London for a couple of years does not mean they can police any part of London any better than an applicant from outside of London. Consider this scenario, someone from Hounslow in West London applies to join the Met Police and is posted to Romford in East London but an applicant from Basildon in Essex would be rejected. Despite the fact that Basildon in Essex is geographically closer to Romford and due to the local road & transport links they probably have friends & family from that area. I am also curious to see if this 40% BAME figure and London residency criteria will apply to the Direct entry schemes or Police Now schemes that the Met are currently part of?

I`m hearing they are likely to be exempt yet Police Now candidates are recruited specifically to work on neighbourhood teams. This is the headline text taken from the Police Now website –

Police Now attract, recruit and train outstanding graduates with leadership potential to be inspirational detectives and police officers who transform communities. Not just for people today, but for generations to come.

Leaving aside the leadership suggestion, it seems these Police recruits do not need to be from the communities they are going to be transforming and I wonder how diverse previous Police Now and Direct entry schemes have been? Do they even match the figures of BAME officers the Met has achieved? The Met has the most BAME officers of any force with around 5,000 of its 32,000 workforce which equates to about 15% and those numbers have increased significantly in the last 20 years. The work is already being done to improve the diversity of the Metropolitan Police and the target figure initially was for 19% BAME to be recruited, which is an attainable figure and one I fully support. I have been involved in police training for the last seven years and it is noticeable that diversity is increasing with some outstanding candidates joining policing and often against their family and community wishes.  

The challenge is that in many communities policing is not seen as a good choice of career and lacks the financial reward for the commitment and dedication required. It does not matter what figure is set as a target recruitment from the BAME community, what is really needed are role models and positive messaging about policing as a profession and career from police leaders, politicians, community leaders and the media.

In reality, people just want a competent, capable, and caring Police officer to turn up when they are needed and provide safety and security at all other times. It matters not to them what ethnicity the officer is or where they live, and for those who commit crime its even less so, as they just see a uniform. I was born in London and policed the area I grew up in for around ten years and yes, it helped me personally to know where I was going but a benefit to the community? I never thought so and there were equally capable officers working with me who had never set foot in our area before they arrived from training school.  

You really do not need to understand the opening line in this piece to police London but you do need to be dedicated, committed, caring and be able to communicate with people, all people, not just those from one community or ethnic group. I worked with officers from a variety of nationalities and ethnicities and I have taught many more, they are all part of the policing family once they take the oath to serve the crown. I will leave you with that oath, whilst I wait for lockdown two to end and I can pop off down the road (frog) to get my hair (barnet) cut….    

“I do solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that I will well and truly serve the Queen in the office of constable, with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people; and that I will, to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept and preserved and prevent all offences against people and property; and that while I continue to hold the said office I will to the best of my skill and knowledge discharge all the duties thereof faithfully according to law.”

Nothing about postcodes, addresses or ethnicity in that, nor percentage targets. Who does that target really serve?