Sir Bernard has decided to allow only applicants to the Met who have lived in London for three of the previous six years. In essence he is trying to restrict applicants to London only. He wants a greater proportion of London residents in the force.
This follows his action a year ago, taking away the travel concession from new recruits to encourage applications from London residents. His claimed justification for these actions is that they will increase the number of Metropolitan Police constables from ethnic backgrounds.
This makes no sense whatsoever. Surely, if you want diversity you must attract applicants from as far and wide as possible? How can reducing the pool of applicants possibly help?
I have several colleagues who arrived in the UK from other nations, some very distant non-white countries, notably in the Caribbean and Indian Oceans, Africa and Poland. English wasn't their first language, but they nevertheless joined the Met straight off the plane. However, under this new recruitment policy they wouldn't now be able to apply. And yet Sir Bernard states that his new policy will increase ethnic diversity.
Met officers who live outside London probably know the city better than many residents, but wouldn't be eligible to apply, if they weren't already in the job.
I know officers who appear to be white Anglo-Saxon, but actually have international parentage – one has French and Egyptian ancestry. He has never lived in London and so wouldn't now be able to apply.
Sir Bernard implies that those of us whose appearance is white Anglo-Saxon aren't capable of policing ethnic communities. That is ridiculous and insulting. What have we been doing all these years?
There are simply endless ways to argue that Sir Bernard's latest brainchild is absurd nonsense, but the real point is that this diversity-based justification is a lie. An insulting lie because of its underlying presumption that constables and the public alike are stupid.
In the 21st century any reasoning that can in some way be attached to the notion of diversity, no matter how implausible, is used to gain a degree of credibility. It's to this bandwagon that we see Metropolitan Police senior officers hitch their fortunes time and again.
Disappointingly, large organisations always behave in the same way: there are the stated objectives, and the REAL objectives.
What is the real motivation? : the Met wants an excuse to withdraw the railway concession and so save money. Diminishing numbers of officers resident outside London will eventually allow them to take it away. But this cost is a burden the Met need never have incurred: the concession was brought in a decade ago because the MPS wasn't able to hold on to its officers: they couldn't afford to live in London and left for county police forces. The railway companies offered it to police officers for free, but the Met management insisted to paying something. The fee has since increased and now the Met doesn't want to pay it.
However, the officers of several county forces bordering London, such as Thames Valley, are granted free travel into London simply because their federations simply asked for it. This benefits both the officers and the railways companies. See my post discussing how the police provide free security on trains:
Commuting Officers Provide Free Security On Railways
Given that salaries have been frozen for three years and pension contributions are the highest in the public sector at 14%, guess what will happen when our travel concession disappears? Officers will leave the Met and transfer out to county forces again – as was normal in the 1990s. Deja vu!
Why is it senior officers can never think through the likely consequences of their actions?
If the MPS doesn't have enough ethnic minority officers, it must logically be because either they aren't applying or they aren't passing the recruitment process. Either way, narrowing the pool of applicants isn't going to solve the problem.