Green Assembly member and former candidate for London Mayor, Sian Berry, has today released a report highlighting the fact that half of London’s police officers do not actually live in the city.
The report, which includes a borough-by-borough breakdown, reveals that despite recent initiatives to recruit more officers from within the capital, fewer than 50% of police officers actually live within the borough they are assigned to protect.
In the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) only 2 police officers live in the area, making it the second least in the capital, only 46% live outside Greater London. The borough with the fewest officers is Islington who only have 1 local officer.
Westminster, which includes the Metropolitan Police’s HQ, currently only has 14 officers living in London with 51% residing outside.
Sian Berry, who obtained the data for the report, says: “if the police service is to have a real understanding of London’s diverse boroughs and communities, we have to recruit and retain more officers who don’t just look like the people they serve but who come from and live in our communities.”
Despite Met initiatives to recruit more officers who live in the capital, the number of officers living in the London boroughs they serve has not increased. Initiatives to attract more people living in London to apply, include: removing commuting allowances, and introduction of residency criteria for new recruits that requires applicants to have lived in London for at least 3 of the last 6 years.
The report also explains that housing costs are the most likely reason for where officers choose to live once they have been recruited, as the average rents in all but almost all of London boroughs now exceeds 50% of the take-home pay of a typical police constable.
In RBKC, for example, the average monthly rent for a Police officer is currently 107% more than the take-home pay.
Berry adds, “with little progress made, the Mayor, the Met Commissioner and the new Deputy Mayor for Policing must revisit the issue of where our police live.”
“Promises to achieve ambitious goals for ethnic and gender balance depend on making more effective plans to recruit from within London and to incentivise officers to stay in London when their family circumstances and housing needs change” Berry says.
In the new London Mayor, Sadiq Khan’s manifesto he promised to: “Promote a police force that looks like the communities it is charged with keeping safe, with the aim of having a Met that is as diverse as London’s population.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The Mayor has made it clear that building confidence in community policing and ensuring the Met is more representative of the Londoners it serves is a top priority. He fully supports the Met’s residency requirement for all new officers to have lived in the city and understand the complexities of policing the capital. The Mayor is also determined to build more affordable homes for Londoners to buy and rent. He looks forward to working with the Commissioner to do everything possible to create a Met that is as diverse as London’s population.”
The full report can be read online here.