Police officers are to learn their trade in supermarket aisles under a radical shake-up of police training launched this week, Personnel Today can reveal.
The Metropolitan Police Service is close to signing deals with two major retailers in north-east London to house the training of recruits for up to six months at a time.
New recruits could be based in-store as early as June, with supermarket staff and customers used for role-playing exercises.
The Met has to find eight training centres to meet the community interaction needs of the new national Initial Police Learning and Development Programme.
“We were constrained by the number of Met buildings, and we can’t have police officers training in every police station,” said Met programme manager Ben Bennett.
“These supermarkets said they had some space, and the benefit is we are training in the community,” he added.
All London police intakes from this week will spend just six weeks at the existing training centre in Hendon – and then 25 weeks training in their destination borough.
This is to help encourage early interaction between recruits and local people.
Bennett said: “Anything we can do to open up and be transparent in our training will enhance the community’s view of the police.”
The British Retail Consortium backed the use of supermarkets as a positive step in increasing police awareness of shopping crime.
“Retail crime costs £2bn per year, and we are keen to convince government and police forces that it needs to be taken more seriously,” said a spokesman. “This is likely to make police officers involved more aware of the scale of the problem.”