Applicants to the police who can barely write in English are being accepted by the Met in an attempt to improve diversity, one of His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has warned.
HMI Matt Parr said that while it was entirely “noble and right” that Scotland Yard was aiming to be more representative of the community it policed, it should not be at the expense of standards.
In 2021, Dame Cressida Dick, the then Met Commissioner, declared it was the force’s aspiration to recruit 40 per cent of its officers from the black and ethnic minority communities by 2023.
But despite the Government’s programme to boost the number of officers across the country, which has seen a significant recruitment campaign across policing, the number of BAME officers in London remains at less than 17 per cent.
Mr Parr said setting ambitious targets both around the number of police recruits and diversity was understandable, but that it increased the risk of lowering standards and recruiting people who were not suited to the job.
He said there was even anecdotal evidence that some applicants were being accepted even though they were “functionally illiterate in English” and had difficulty writing up crime reports.
Mr Parr told The Telegraph: “We completely support the idea that London – which will likely be a minority white city in the next decade or so – should not be policed by an overwhelmingly white police force.
“That is clearly wrong. It is not just wrong from a legitimacy point of view, and from an appearances point of view, it is also operationally wrong because it means that the Met does not get insight into some of the communities it polices and that has caused problems in the past.
“So we completely support the drive to make the Met much more representative of the community it serves than it is at the moment.”
But he added: “We have a risk of recruiting the wrong people. You will hear people from their training school say that they are taking in significant numbers of people who are, on paper at least, functionally illiterate in English and therefore just writing up crime reports has become quite difficult in some areas.