The morale of Metropolitan Police officers is ‘cracking’ and will only get worse if force strength is cut further, Federation Chairman Ken Marsh has warned.
Speaking to Talk Radio, Ken said officers were being treated like ‘second class citizens’ and that more had left the job over the last 12 months than at any time in the past 12 years.
Stress and burn out are to blame.
The problems officers face are only going to intensify if fears that the force could drop to below 27,000 officers bear fruit, he told the station.
“We’ve seen more police officers in the past 12 months leaving than at any time in my service. They are completely burnt out with the stress factor.
“You can’t keep putting sticking plasters on. In the Met we are sitting on 220,000 rest days. Days off are being cancelled and it’s all because there are not enough officers.”
Nearly 3,000 officers have been lost to the force over the last eight years he said, while Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, told the London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee that the service will almost have ‘no other option’ than to slash officer numbers even further if more savings need to be found.
“We had 32,500 officers. We now have fewer than 30,000,” Ken added.
“We are starting to see the morale crack. We will eventually get to a point where we are broken and then the Government will have to pump the money back into the service.
“We are being treated like second class citizens,” he told the station.
“Our resources and funding have been slashed to a bewildering point. We have lost more than 3,000 officers but demands are going up, including countering terrorism.
“My colleagues in the Met do an amazing job – but how can this be right? “It’s a disgrace what has taken place in policing and it means we can’t deliver, what are we meant to do?
“We are having to choose what we can and can’t go to and at the end of the day it’s going to be the public who will suffer from this.”
In November, the Metropolitan Police announced that it was relaxing the rule that anyone who wanted to join the Met, must live in London in an attempt to attract more people to join the Force.
A spokesperson for the Force said:
“Since August 2014 the Met has had residency criteria for all external candidates applying to become a constable, requiring them to have lived in London for a minimum of three out of the last six years.
“This requirement was introduced in recognition that having a connection with, and local knowledge of, London and its communities is beneficial and that this should be valued when selecting new police officers.
“It has also enabled us to become more representative of London by significantly improving the number of officers that we recruit from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds”
“These are principles that are still really important. However, the Met finds itself in a period of significant growth in a very buoyant London employment market.
“It is seeking to recruit more than double the number of officers who joined last year.
“We know that we can recruit sufficient numbers of new officers in London to meet our normal turnover of around 1800 officers a year.
“However, to get enough applications to achieve the growth in a timely way the London residency criteria will be temporarily removed for the next six months.”
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