Cuts to Policing (Supplementary) [7]

Session date: 
June 3, 2015
Question By: 
James Cleverly
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) & Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis)


Sir Bernard, I welcome the comments that were reported about your views on fitness standards within the MPS and policing in general.  As someone who has to take an annual fitness test for the Reserve Forces twice a year, which I still find quite amusing, I welcome those. 


Allied to that and linked to overall policing numbers and policing output from those numbers, the number of officers on long-term sick and restricted duties is still significant.  Will you also apply the attitude that you have taken around fitness standards to those officers who - perhaps through no fault of their own - are unable to fulfil the full functions of a police officer and find a way of managing them out of the organisation appropriately, freeing up places for officers who can be put into frontline duty?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Cuts to Policing (Supplementary) [7]

Answer for Cuts to Policing (Supplementary) [7]

Answered By: 
Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) & Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis)

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  The first point, just to be clear, were reported comments which I stand by but which were a little partial in that they gave no context.  The first point I would make is that all our officers are now taking, as they should have done for many years, an annual fitness test and 97.5% of them passed it.  I did and so did the rest of the management board.  In my view the standard should be higher.  Generally we have fit people.  Someone asked me the question in a Radio Times interview for the documentary I have just described, “How do I keep myself fit?”  From that grew this point about you do not want to see fat officers waddling towards you.  I stand by it.  However, 97.5% are people who are fit.  It is not condemning everybody.  Where people need to be challenged I will always do that.


Your point about recuperative officers is a challenge.  I do not think there are easy solutions at the moment.  We are doing our best to manage it now.  As you know, there are two groups: recuperative, those who can get better, and restricted, those who probably cannot with a long-term injury or whatever it happens to be.  The tension is that by that definition you might give them a medical pension.  No one wants to do that.  If you cannot give them a pension, you have to find a job that they will be suited to.  I would like more flexibility. 


I made a speech about six or seven weeks ago now, which if people are interested we can share.  One of the points I made in that is that we need more flexibility for the office of constable as though they were an employee.  At the moment there are many restrictions.  I want to preserve the benefits of being a constable: that we are independent in the application of our powers; that we do not strike.  They are all good things.  Sometimes a constable gets the benefits of being an employee whilst still being a constable.  There are lawyers in our misconduct process because allegedly the officers cannot get access to an employment tribunal.  Actually, they can if they can show illegal discrimination; I do not blame them for that.  However, why do we have lawyers in the system?  I do not know how many lawyers there are here but they are rarely conducive to efficiency.  They do not make things quicker.  They may make things better but they rarely make things quicker. 


The fact is that in these circumstances we talk about officers who may not have the full physical abilities to do all the job could be deployed to something else but would remain on the same terms and conditions.  I find that rather odd compared to other colleagues who are running around Croydon or Lewisham and dealing with all those responsibilities.  We may have a role for them but it may not be on the same terms and conditions.  I would like to see more flexibility there.  The way that we are interpreting things at the moment - around the country, not just in the MPS - means we are seeing too many people on recuperative duties because no one wants to give them a medical pension.  You can cope with that to some extent when you are a big organisation and growing.  As we are now becoming a slimmer, hopefully leaner, organisation I am afraid that that is going to get more and more difficult.  We will need some legislative change to make some of the changes you identify.


James Cleverly AM MP:  You have my support on that.  Thank you.