30/09/2010

Police Recruits 'Could Be Unpaid'

In a bid to save money, the Metropolitan Police Authority are considering whether potential police officers should work as unpaid volunteers for 18 months before employment.

Regardless of previous qualifications and experience, police recruits currently receive 25 weeks of training, earning £23,000 during their first two years.

The new model would see most trainees working 16 hours a month as volunteers, for a period of 18 months. The move could save the police force up to £20m a year.

Last year, the Met recruited 2,000 new officers, taking its total to 31,000.

However, due to ongoing financial strain, many potential officers have been turned away.

Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, Peter Smyth, voiced concerns that the new recruitment policy could mean fewer women and police officers from ethnic minorities.

Commenting to Sky, he said: "Women who have a job and a family were unlikely to have the time to volunteer.

"However, we now know that there is a high percentage of both groups in the Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) so that lessens concerns."

Another concern had been that recruitment would only come from the PCSO, however the Police Federation has been informed there will also be graduate recruitment, former forces' personnel and people with legal backgrounds.

"We recognise that in this time of financial constraint, there is a need to try to find some way of saving money. Obviously, in times of higher employment, it might not be so effective.

"For the present, our attitude is: Give it a try and see how it works."

(BMcN)

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