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RIVAL FORCES POACHING OUR OFFICERS, SAYS MET

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Police numbers in London are continuing to fall amid accusations that provincial forces are 'poaching' the capital'...
Police numbers in London are continuing to fall amid accusations that provincial forces are 'poaching' the capital's officers, reported The Sunday Telegraph (p8). New figures obtained by the newspaper show that the Metropolitan force is now nearly 3,000 officers below strength and senior officers are forecasting that the deficit will reach 4,000 by

Christmas.

The shortfall in Met officers was reported to be 2,500 in June of this year, but the new figures - obtained from a senior officers' meeting held last month - show the crisis getting worse. One acknowledged factor is that highly trained London police are desirable recruits for other forces, and forces in Lincolnshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Thames Valley and Surrey have been accused of luring officers away from London.

'Some senior officers from other police services are appealing directly to our staff to join their force. They know that

our officers can find it difficult to work and live in London', said Supt Dean Ingledew, who is in charge of policing Soho

and the west end.

Some officers are leaving because they are furious that wages and housing allowances which were promised to Met officers six weeks ago have not been paid. The Sunday Telegraph revealed last month that hundreds of police officers across England and Wales are suing their chief constables, claiming they were recruited with lucrative promises of housing allowances and pay that never materialised.

The present drop in officer numbers follows a warning by the Metropolitan Police commissioner John Stevens that unless the issue of pay was sorted out, shifts would be 'stretched to breaking point'. The home office responded to recruitment problems in July with the 'exceptional' decision to increase the London housing allowance to£6,000 a year - more than double the average payment in the public sector of£2,850.

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