Scale of crisis facing Met Police revealed as force 'not fit to serve Londoners effectively” in current state

Scale of crisis facing Met Police revealed as force 'not fit to serve Londoners effectively” in current state

The scale of the crisis facing the Metropolitan Police was laid bare on Thursday as the force admitted it is “not fit to serve Londoners effectively” in its current state.

In evidence to the Police Remuneration Review Body, the Met said a third of its officers will have under four years of service next year as it struggles with low pay, high workloads and plummeting application numbers.

It said: “At present, we cannot recruit enough officers to meet present demand, nor the demand needed to meet key areas of reform such as addressing the Casey review and recommendations to significantly reduce the caseloads of [Rape and Serious Sexual Offences] investigations.”

It adds that the Met began the year 1,000 officers short of targets and is expected to end it 1,415 short. Forty per cent of detective constables in local policing have less than two years service, while the number of applications for job roles is only around 30 per cent of the level required.

“Our most inexperienced people are being led by our most inexperienced supervisors, who are in turn spread the most thinly”, the Met’s evidence states.

In its evidence to the review - which provides independent recommendations to the Government on police funding and officers’ pay - it added: “Our foundations are weak. This means we are not able to effectively manage the resources we have now; it is the reason why we have not yet built an efficiency capability, and it is why we now have to stabilise our workforce.

“We have not historically had the capital or revenue budgets available to invest in our key capabilities such as leadership, HR, finance, project management and transformation – and we have not invested enough in resources like training and kit.

“We have routinely had to prioritise ‘boots on the ground’ to deliver our core functions. Our estate is not fit to serve Londoners effectively.”

Police constables have a starting salary of £36,775, rising to £37,975 at week 30, and the significantly higher cost of living in London compared to other UK cities is putting off new recruits.

Staff shortages make implementing requirements in the Baroness Casey’s review all but impossible, the force said.

In the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder by a serving police officer, the damning Casey report found that a “boys’ club” culture was rife in the force and it was misogynist and homophobic, and there had been a systemic failure to root out discriminatory behaviour.

Baroness Casey’s review made 16 recommendations including for a new team to reform how the Met deals with misconduct cases and an overhaul of vetting procedures.

A Home Office spokesman said the “retention of police officers is a priority” and last year it signed off a 7 per cent pay increase for the force.

But a survey of 1,500 Met officers and staff found two thirds were in a worse position than a year ago, even following the wage rise.

It also revealed:

* A quarter of respondents admitted to missing meals, while nearly 1 in 10 admitted to using a food bank to support themselves

* 76 per cent had financial concerns

* 64 per cent were doing more overtime, 15 per cent were considering additional loans or credit cards and 36 per cent were selling their possessions.

* Just over a third (35 per cent) were considering leaving the police service altogether

The Met Police Commissioner Mark Rowley said: “Policing is challenging enough without the added strain that concerns about the cost of living are placing on officers.

“They’ve seen a 16 per cent real terms cut in pay since 12 years ago. This year we are joining forces across the country in calling for a pay rise at or above the rate of inflation.

“We also want to see London weighting increased by at least £2,000 to acknowledge that buying or renting a home, paying for childcare and a whole host of other costs are far greater in the capital.

“These changes matter greatly for serving officers, but they’re also important if we’re to reverse the backward trend in recruitment that’s being seen not just in policing but in health, prisons, probation, teaching and many other parts of the public sector in London.

“It is at the lowest pay points that we’re the least competitive with other sectors, which is why we’re also asking for the lowest pay point to be abolished, with more freedom to set starting salaries.”

Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park, Sarah Olney said: “Londoners rely on the Metropolitan Police to keep them safe, but these alarming figures show the force is at risk of being left without the officers needed to keep our streets safe.

“For years, Conservative ministers have turned a blind eye whilst condemning police forces to brutal cuts, and now local people are paying the price.

“It’s just not good enough. We must finally restore the proper community policing that our communities deserve.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Last year we awarded a consolidated pay increase of 7 per cent to officers of all ranks. The retention of police officers is a priority for the government and our latest survey of new police recruits found that 85 per cent of respondents were satisfied with their job, with 72 per cent intending to stay in their role until retirement age.”