Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner accuses Met of 'poaching officers with golden handshake'

Officers are being offered a £5,000 bonus to transfer to London

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire has accused the Metropolitan Police of trying to poach local officers, following the introduction of a £5,000 bonus to transfer to London.

The move has sparked outrage at a time when all forces are trying to meet tough government recruitment targets.

Hampshire PCC Donna Jones says the move could even affect community safety if other forces don't meet the new officer targets.

"All 43 police forces in the country and trying to recruit 20,000 police officers to achieve the government's last general election pledge of 20,000 additional police officers.

"What's happened is that the Met Police are really really struggling with their recruitment.

"Not only are they failing to attract new staff to apply to work for them, but they are losing staff to other forces as well.

"The assistant temporary commissioner of the Met, Sir Stephen House has issued an incentive - a financial golden handshake of five thousand pounds to police officers to transfer to or to join the Met, and of course that will have a knock-on effect to those eight police forces that surround the London area.

"I think this is masking the real problem, which is the fact that people don't want to work for the Met police because of the culture issues and the failings that they have had across Britain's largest police force.

"Here in Hampshire and in the Thames Valley we work incredibly hard to keep standards high and look after our staff - but they will be using the money they get from the government for this golden handshake, so they are putting us all in the position where we have to consider doing the same thing.

Ms Jones revealed she believes "only a handful" of officers from Hampshire might be tempted by the Met's offer.

"They are also going to relax the fact that police officers don't have to do the police degree.

"A lot of people don't want to do the degree - they want to come in and be police officers. By giving that flexibility, Sir Stephen House is probably making it more appealing for potential new officers - but if all eight police forces surrounding London also offer this £5,000 incentive, we could be looking at more than £15 million of public money being spent on golden handshakes to get people into policing.

"It's simply not a good use of public money."

The Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber also took to social media to express his concerns over the Met's incentive scheme.

In a letter to London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Mr Barber, who was elected as the commissioner in May 2021 described the move as a "waste of public money".

He also said it could risk community safety.

Asked how it will affect residents' safety, Hampshire PCC Donna Jones added: "It certainly will do if it means we don't hit our recruitment numbers.

"Our target in Hampshire is 498 new officers - that is our share of the 20,000.

"When I became police and crime commissioner I pledged 600 extra police officers, so we are going to exceed our target.

"We are going to hit the 498 by September/October, and then by March of next year - hit the 600. But for other forces it could put community safety at risk."

The Metropolitan Police has been contacted for comment.