There is growing concern in Kent Police over London’s Metropolitan Police Service’s decision to tempt constables to switch forces with a £5,000 ‘golden hello’.
The £5,000 offer was made at the end of May and will close in December. According to the Met’s recruitment page, “We are offering a £5,000 welcome payment to all constables transferring to the Met from Home Office police forces by December 2022”. This is bound to put the greatest strain on the police services closest to London.
All forces currently recruiting
The Met recruitment page adds,
“We’re currently accepting applications from uniform and detective constables who have passed their probation periods and are looking to join the Met.
“As a serving police officer or detective constable, you do not need to move to London in order to join us and we accept applications from officers in all Home Office forces.
“We are interested in hearing from officers – PC or DC – with a range of skills and experiences from frontline to specialist units.”
At the time the offer was made the national press reported the condemnation of Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner and that of the Thames Valley Commissioner. They were both signatories of a joint letter from the PCCs of eight police services around London, addressed to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, expressing their “grave concerns about the approach being taken”.
They’re not happy
When asked for further comment recently, Kent PCC Matthew Scott responded, “ it is disgraceful, and I have nothing further to add on the subject”.
The county’s Police Federation, which looks after the interests of serving officers, was similarly critical and demanded an increase in pay for all police in Kent to counter the effect of the Met’s offer. Kent Federation’s chair, Neil Mennie, a proud member of KPS for all his career said, “the scheme poses a real problem”. In an interview on Radio Kent, Mennie said, “The problem is even if only a small number decide to take up the Met’s offer, that then leaves the team that they’ve been working on in a difficult position”.
In the same Radio Kent interview, Kent’s chief constable, Alan Pughsley, said he was “disappointed” in the Met’s move. He added: “We are doing everything we can to keep our officers and staff here and that includes working with the Met to try and agree a cap, because I recognise some officers will go.”
Kent Police under increasing strain
Some officers have indeed gone. As well as their physical presence they have taken with them their experience and expertise, leaving their teams depleted. As a consequence, teams whose normal shift is ten hours, are frequently completing anything up to 23 hours on a single shift, in order to complete the workload. One Detective Sergeant admitted to me that she had had two members of her team in tears with stress recently.
While officers receive overtime payments for hours worked beyond their normal shifts, there’s only so much that they can take before they are forced to take sick leave – thereby depleting their team even further.