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Retire? We need Old Bill, says police chief

Met plan to increase number of experienced officers

07 June, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Sir Stephen House: ‘There is always going to be a younger workforce coming into the organisation’

POLICE are looking to put the “old” back into the Bill with a plan to persuade some officers to stay on with the Met beyond their pensionable age.

The capital’s deputy police commissioner, Sir Stephen House, was questioned over the apparent youthful nature of the force when he appeared in front of City Hall, and admitted discussions with the Home Office were taking place to find ways to retain experienced officers beyond their retirement age.

He said: “People of my generation joined to do 30 years’ service and then got a pension. It’s now 35 years and they get a pension.

“The nature of it is there is a strong dynamic and financial imperative that when you reach pensionable age you should leave – and it’s a big ask for people to stay on, although many people do stay on for the love of the job.

“If we could make it easier for people to stay on beyond their pensionable service, then that would mean that our experience levels would increase.”

Sir Stephen said new recruits, including new officers currently being trained at the police school in Hendon, had an average age of 24, adding: “There is always going to be a younger workforce coming into the organisation. I think we should be celebrating that the organisation is growing.”

He told members: “Of course, it would be great if they arrived on shift, fully experienced with the equivalent of 10 years of policing experience, but we haven’t got a way to inject them with that experience.”

The deputy commissioner was being quizzed on Tuesday by members of the London Assembly’s police committee, which regularly meets to fire questions at the Met’s top brass.

“I think what I have to say, though, is that many people – and I mean no disrespect to officers of more than 30 years’ service, I’m one myself – the idea of officers with 35-36 years’ service still working earlies, lates and nights… I’m not sure too many would be keen on that,” said Sir Stephen.

“It does take its toll after a while. If we could retain the experience in the organisation, perhaps on investigations or on Safer Neighbourhood teams, that would be a very valuable thing to do and we are talking to the Home Office about it.”

Conservative Assembly member Susan Hall had raised the subject of age, telling the chamber: “I’ve talked to various police officers and they are all concerned that it’s such a young force because we’ve lost so many of the older heads and therefore there isn’t the experienced heads that there should be.”

Earlier this year, Islington’s borough commander, Raj Kohli, 52, said younger officers did have a valuable role in building relationships with young people affected by or in danger of being caught up in knife crime.

“Our average age of a police officer is much younger than it used to be,” he said.

“It wasn’t that long ago that they were teen­agers feeling the pressure of living in London, so they can empathise.”


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