Fears have been raised that police officers in forces neighbouring London – including Surrey and Hampshire – could jump ship to the Metropolitan Police thanks to a ‘golden handshake’ offer.
Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) Donna Jones voiced her displeasure at a financial incentive being given for police officers to join the Met – saying the London force has broken an ‘unwritten rule’ between police forces.
Currently, the London-based police force is offering a one-time payment of £5,000 to any police officer who joins from a neighbouring police force.
Mrs Jones fears this move could undo some of the recruitment efforts of the past couple of years.
She said: “I’ve raised my concerns about this because it could be anybody who leaves, from police officers to detectives.
“The Met Police has struggled to recruit its share of new police officers, compared to here where we’re doing quite well.
“I think it’ll have more of an effect on our younger police officers. I have challenged the Home Office to say we’re not happy of this and I have urged Sadiq Khan to reconsider his golden handshake offer.”
But a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said the London force has lost more officers to neighbouring forces than it has gained in recent years.
Mrs Jones’ comments came on the same day as a police and crime panel meeting, hosted by Hampshire County Council, where she told councillors 490 new officers will be in Hampshire by September.
At this meeting, the commissioner confirmed that she has made annual budget savings of almost £750,000 through redundancies and by switching to a smaller office.
But spending money to compete with an offer such as the Met’s simply isn’t feasible, she explained.
“We did think about all offering the £5,000 but that would lead to millions of pounds being spent with us all trying to out-bid each other,’ she said.
“It doesn’t send the right message.
“I believe the Met has broken a protocol that exists between us all – we’re all there to look out for each other. What they have done is not in the spirit of that at all.”
While pushing for the Met’s financial incentive to be revisited, Mrs Jones believes other forces like Surrey and Sussex – which border London – are more susceptible to staff losses.
In recent years Hampshire Constabulary has made a net gain of officers from the Met Police, she added.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “The Met is a significant net loser on transferees to and from other forces – when considering officers who have transferred in and out over the uplift period, our net position is 300 down.
“Over the growth period the Met has worked hard to recruit the vast majority of our 9,400 new officers from within London, using the London Residency Criteria.
“Across the last 12 months we have invested heavily in a new recruitment outreach team, working within and alongside London communities to attract Londoners to a career in policing and we have encouraged more of our own officers who can retire to stay with us.
“It is only in this final uplift year, given the significant impact of the London employment market, we have lifted the London Residency Criteria and are extending our recruitment reach.”