Force is still not up to strength, Met admits

Major deficiencies in recruitment and training at the Metropolitan Police
have emerged as competition for staff intensifies with the prison and armed

The force denied that a major billboard recruitment drive last autumn had
flopped, but admitted it is still below strength. The initiative was partly
aimed at attracting more ethnic minority recruits.

"It is going to take time, especially given that the Prison Service and
Army are also trying to recruit ethnic minorities and we are all looking for
the same thing. It is not as if we are in isolation," said a spokesman for
the Metropolitan Force.

He added that inadequate pay "is severely hampering the Met’s ability
to recruit and retain its staff".

There are 26,267 police officers in the force compared with 28,400 in 1993.
The current figure is 158 below the target.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Condon has called for a London
weighting or "pay lead" for London officers.

Last autumn, the Metropolitan Police launched a high-profile series of
adverts in an attempt to recruit much-needed extra officers, particularly from
ethnic minorities.

The spokesman denied they had failed, and said it was impossible to accurately
assess the impact of individual campaigns.

Weaknesses in training as well as recruitment procedures were identified by
the Inspectorate of Constabulary in a report published last week.

Recommendations included the development of a community race relations
strategy and a review of the training of recruitment interviewers.

Andrew Marston, personnel director at Greater Manchester Police, said
Manchester is carrying out race relations training with officers.

"My understanding is that the Met are in a similar position," he

"Recruitment is a very difficult issue. If you have communities that
have the perception that they are being unfairly dealt with by the police, they
will not feel they can get a fair deal within the police so there is a cycle
there that needs to be broken."

By Helen Rowe

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