Metropolitan Police (Recruitment)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 22nd October 2001.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Party Chair, Co-operative Party 2:30 pm, 22nd October 2001

What further action he is taking to increase recruitment into the Metropolitan police.

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

Recruitment to the Metropolitan police has been aided by the crime fighting fund, by the national recruitment campaign, by the provision of free rail travel within a 70-mile radius of London and by the increase last year in London allowance for post-Sheehy officers.

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Party Chair, Co-operative Party

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that the particular challenge in recruitment to the Met in attractive, highly desirable, outer-London suburbs such as Harrow is the high cost of property, especially for first-time buyers? Is he aware also that that issue is beginning to affect the retention of officers after two or three years service, when they may be attracted by cheaper property prices in other police force areas? Will he keep under close review the question of whether further investment in key worker housing is necessary both to retain police officers and to help with recruitment in suburbs such as my own?

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

My hon. Friend makes very good points. We are certainly keen to understand and respond to all the reasons for police officers leaving the force early. Wastage of officers remains very low, but we do not want to lose a single officer unnecessarily. On housing, I am sure that my hon. Friend will welcome the Government's initiative to enable 550 London police officers to buy first homes with financial assistance over the next three years.

Photo of John Horam John Horam Conservative, Orpington

Will the review of the resource allocation formula used by the Metropolitan police lead to an increase in police numbers in outer-London boroughs such as Harrow and Bromley?

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

Consultation is taking place on a new formula for the allocation of police officers in London boroughs, which was suggested by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. As that consultation is still under way, it is too early to be certain about what the final allocation will be.

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Labour, Lewisham East

While I welcome the initiatives that have been taken to increase Metropolitan police recruitment, police have been moved from the boroughs to central London because of the higher security levels, leaving those boroughs under- resourced. Are there any specific initiatives to address that issue?

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

Everyone welcomes and acknowledges the reassurance role that the Metropolitan police service has been playing since 11 September, and I think that that reassurance has had a significant impact on the sense of public security. However, I assure my hon. Friend that the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis is very clearly aware of the need to ensure that effective normal policing arrangements are in place during this time.