Local Policing Model (Supplementary) [5]

Session date: 
March 19, 2014
Question By: 
Joanne McCartney
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Yes, Mr Mayor, I am very happy that you are seeking to recruit officers to replace the ones you have already cut.  I think we all agree that we have to do our utmost to make sure that those new officers are representative of London’s communities.  I know that is something that you feel strongly about as well.


I was very concerned to read that according to the Metropolitan Police Service’s own Equalities Impact Assessment in January that currently the Metropolitan Police Service has a 10.5% of officers are black and minority ethnic (BAME).

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Local Policing Model (Supplementary) [5]

Answer for Local Policing Model (Supplementary) [5]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

That is about right.


Joanne McCartney AM:  It is only projected to increase to 11% by 2016.  At that rate of recruitment it would take the Metropolitan Police Service 120 years to reach a comparative level with London’s population.  I questioned you about this last June, because at that state the Metropolitan Police Service had floated the possibility of changing legislation to have something like a Northern Ireland Police Service model where a pool of candidates are drawn according to necessary populations.  You stated that you were supportive of positive action.  That idea has been floated again by the Commissioner after the publication of the Ellison Review.  I am just wondering what you have done to encourage any positive action?  It is a challenge that no one has failed to crack yet, but is there something now bold and radical that we do need to look at, and will you be supporting the Metropolitan Police Service?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am grateful to you, Joanne, for the manner in which you pose the question, because it is a very serious problem.  When I took over the officer numbers were running at about 8%.  It is now up to, as you say, 10.5%.  The current rate of growth is very slow.  Obviously there are lots of ways of addressing it.  We had a big recruitment programme with the BAME community and it produced a huge number of expressions of interest.  It was very, very successful in mobilising support for the idea of joining the police.  It was then incredibly disappointing to see how many expressions of interest basically fell away and were not converted into successful applications, even though, as I say, we are recruiting now.  We are trying to dig into that.  We are trying to see what we can do to buck that trend, to steepen the angle of improvement so that the police start sooner to resemble the London that they serve.  There is a programme of work underway to do that.


We are also trying to encourage entry at senior level, up to the rank, I think, of Chief Superintendent, which is very senior indeed, so we are looking at that mid-career entry for people from communities across London.


There is then the additional question, which you raise and which Sir Bernard [Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service] raises, of going for a quota system, of going for basically what they have in Northern Ireland and for having a very strict system like that.  I can see the attractions of that, in one way, but it is a very blunt tool.  It is something that if you do for the police you have to consider the implications for all sorts of public service, all sorts of walks of life.  It is something that we do not really do in this country so far.  It would be a big step forward.


At the moment I want to concentrate on some of the really dynamic, evangelical approaches that we are running, to try to recruit more officers from the communities that they need to represent.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Mr Mayor, I think we both agree that the talent is out there, but what they found in Northern Ireland was that it is actually leading that critical mass and the assurance that when you join a service that you are going to feel at home in it.  Can I ask you how long are you going to wait before you--


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  If you look at the junior ranks and you look at PCSOs you are seeing the numbers really quite high now, and getting towards levels where they are entirely reflective of the whole of London.  In the future, if you assume normal progression and promotion patterns, we will get that.


Joanne McCartney AM:  It could be 20 years.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I will not deny, Joanne, it is slow going at the moment.