Metropolitan police recruits are waiting up to three years from when their applications to join the force are accepted until they start training, Personnel Today has learned.
After recruits pass an initial four days of interviews and security checks they receive a letter with a provisional starting date for the 18-week programme at the Met training centre in Hendon. But the start date is subject to change, and this has created concern among some recruits.
One recruit, who spoke to Personnel Today, had been told by Met staff that some people who had passed their tests in January 2004 had still not received a starting date for training. The recruit said: "I am quite worried about that. There are so many conflicting stories it is hard to know what is really going on."
Martin Tiplady, director of HR at the Met, confirmed that the waiting period could be up to three years. He said greater numbers of applicants had combined with lower attrition rates among existing staff to slow down intake but denied that this was having any effect on the morale of recruits.
He said that the force had become a victim of its own success, with applications going up from six-a-day in 1999 to 60-a-day in 2002. "There is no evidence to show people have been put off by the waiting period," Tiplady said.
He also said that delays would not compromise security as candidates were vetted again if the delay between being accepted for training and actually starting was more than a year.
The Met said 3% of recruits dropped out during this waiting period but many others took up the option of joining police staff, becoming a police community support officer or applying to another police force while waiting.
The Met accepted 1,500 new recruits last year for training and will recruit another 1,400 in the 2005-06 financial year. Hendon trains about 2,000 new recruits each year.
Victoria Gill, learning, training and development adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said the Met should reassess its recruitment policies.
"Any organisation needs to look at it training capacity when recruiting people," she said.