Ageing police force will lead to officer shortage at 2012 Olympics

Policing the 2012 Olympics presents huge resourcing challenges as many officers are set to retire in the next four years, a leading figure has warned.

Tarique Ghaffur, assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police, told delegates at the Police Federation conference in Bournemouth this morning that retention was a major issue facing all police forces, and that more had to be done to secure staff for the games.

“Between now and 2012 there are very large numbers of police likely to retire,” he said. “In my force, 40% of officers can retire between now and the Olympics. We have to do very substantial work to make sure we retain these skills.”

Ghaffur said the National Policing Improvement Agency, set up to improve police support and technology, will help to work out how to retain skills across police forces.

“We are looking at a ‘people bank’ in terms of skills,” he added.

Ghaffur also ruled out the possibility of Met officers taking annual leave during the summer games.

“It will be wrong for me to say, given the skills and resourcing issues, officers will be able to go on leave in the summer of 2012, as we do in most summers.”

He said he wanted to bring certainty to officers about leave arrangements now, as the Met continues to deal with resourcing issues.

“Diversity is also a big challenge facing the Met and its efforts to police the games,” Ghaffur warned.

“How do we ensure we get the right mix of people and ensure there is diversity across the policing effort?” he asked.

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