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Met had to give back £60m to Home Office after not meeting Uplift

Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said attraction rather than attrition was the problem.

The Metropolitan Police had to return £60m funding to government after the force failed to meet its Uplift target.

The Met was the only force to not meet its target by the deadline of March this year.

Sir Mark Rowley said this morning that he was “disappointed” that the government took the funding back and that they are recruiting “flat out”.

He told the Police and Crime panel that the Met is currently “out of shape” and that he has thousands of officers doing jobs that are being done by police staff in other forces.

“We could free up at least 3,000 officers to be more operational from back office posts if we had the money for 3,000 staff” he said.

“Which would achieve the objective we all want of more officers on the street simply by bringing in more expert staff to do jobs like HR.

“Likewise if we got over the next year some of the money from the capital cities grant clearly I couldn’t spend it overnight on police officers whilst we are trying to increase our recruiting but I could have the same operational effect by liberating those officers from back officer jobs to the frontline.”

He added that this would cost in the region of £150m to £200m.

As to why the force was unable to meet their target, Sir Mark said they are recruiting “flat out”.

“The application rate is not sufficient to get the numbers in that we want to.

“We’ve changed our advertising and marketing approach and that is showing some positive results.

“The employment market in London is brutally difficult

“We pulled every lever we can on pay, our attrition rate is low compared to other forces. Attraction is the challenge.”

He added later that the attrition rate is “very healthy” and “much better than across the country”.

He said that the figures are starting to show that recruitment is approaching the level where it will sustain numbers.

“We need to go from being in reduction, to being able to match exits and then go into growth,” Sir Mark said.

“It’s starting to get close to that but it’s very early days in that respect.”

He expects the force to finish the year between 1,700 – 1,800 less than their target.

Mitigation wise he said the focus would be on the organisation of the workforce and spreading the vacancy load- with the systems not “currently as good as we would like them to be”.

He said the Met are “stretching ourselves with a lot of overtime”.

While he pointed to benefits of flexibility but also affordability of living near London for officers, he added there were risks there in terms of sustainability.

“In terms of officers re-joining, we are pulling the lever as firmly as we can do.

“In terms of temporary work – we’re using that where the budgets allow.

“The fundamental challenge is we’re out of shape because of a whole history of reasons […] the Met has a small proportion of police staff compared to other police forces.”

The force’s PCSO numbers are growing by150 to 200 this year and police staff recruitment is not struggling to fill vacancies he added.

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