Yoruba tops list of languages required by the Metropolitan Police
Scotland Yard has come under fire today after placing an advert demanding that anyone wanting to join as a police officer be able to speak a second language.
The Metropolitan Police wants to bolster the number of officers able to speak and understand 14 languages which are widely used across London.
As part of a month-long trial which started today, new recruits must speak English and one of Yoruba (Nigeria), Hebrew, Arabic, Hindi, Punjabi, Italian, German, Turkish, Greek, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Sinhala (Sri Lanka) or Bengali to join as Met Police officers.
But the move has sparked criticism from a former officer and members of the public on Twitter.
Retired Met Police officer Chris Hobbs wrote: “I’ve kept reading and re-reading it. Can’t believe it. What about potential BME (black and minority ethnic) recruits who only speak English.”
He added: “Won’t this also adversely affect the recruitment of guys and girls from the black community whom we would like 2 [sic] see more of?”
After Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe set an ambitious target of having 40 per cent of all officers from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, only 18 per cent met that criteria when the latest intake passed out in March.
According to a report published by the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee in December 2014, before the most recent recruitment campaign, only 11 per cent of officers serving in the Met were from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background, compared with approximately 40 per cent of the population of London. The current BME figure in the Met is now 12 per cent.
Members of the public also appeared less than enthusiastic about the new initiative.
Simon Holdaway tweeted: “The Met’s lack of understanding of the problems it faces is stunning’, while another user wrote: ‘the lunatics have finally overtaken the asylum.”
Meanwhile, Carole Hawkins tweeted: “For £19,000 a year, this country is now getting really silly.”
Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said:
“We know that almost 300 languages are spoken in the capital. We need to recruit and deploy officers with second languages in areas where those languages are spoken.
“I believe it will help boost confidence, help to solve crime more effectively and support victims and witnesses.”
A Met Police spokesman said: “It’s a pilot scheme for four weeks. We will review it after four weeks and see what the take-up is and how successful it has been in terms of the number of people expressing an interest.
“With so many languages spoken in London we recognise that some of our victims, witnesses and others who come into contact with the police may not be fluent in English.
“This is about strengthening our capability to match the needs of some Londoners. We know there is a demonstrable link between the skills and capabilities of our workforce and public confidence in London’s police.
“The language requirement is the latest in a number of initiatives the MPS has introduced in a bid to make the MPS more reflective of London’s communities.”
Chairman of the Metropolitan Black Police Association, Janet Hills, said: ‘This is about the cultural competency of officers within the organisation and those they are looking to recruit.
“The MetBPA are broadly supportive of the intention but recognise that more needs to be done to effectively utilise the existing skills of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic officers by consciously placing them into communities where they will have the greatest impact.
“Language is just one of the competencies that the MPS can utilise but unless officers with the right skills are placed in the right locations these attributes will be wasted.”