10,000 Specials

10000-specialsI have been a bit busy over the weekend so apologies for not being very active on the blog. I was pleased to see on Friday the Mayor sticking to his knitting and talking about recruiting more special constables. See press release here and Evening Standard story here.

More policing, more volunteering, more keeping the police force in touch with the people it polices. We have seen too many incidents recently of the Met’s canteen culture getting out of hand and spilling over into rascist and other unpleasant incidents. A few Specials around the place to say “you can’t be serious” will be very welcome.

Current Met police numbers, see here for January 2009 figures, include 35,000 PCs, 14,000 office workers and 4,000 PCSOs. Currently there are some 2,600 Specials so it will be a hard task to get the number up to 10,000. If the Met succeed in recruiting these kind of numbers they are bound to have an impact firstly on increasing the number of police on the streets which is a big win in itself but the more important effect may well be the impact it has on normalising the police and making them more accountable to the public.

I don’t know if this initiative comes from the Mayor or the new Commissioner but it is a very welcome follow up to Stephenson’s announcement of a couple of weeks ago that coppers should be out on their own more. Both initiatives pull in the same direction: more boots on the ground and more accountability.

For all of the showbiz around the Mayor he only really has two jobs to do:

  • – make public transport better and cheaper and wean it off its huge public subsidy
  • – fight crime and turn the Met into London’s own police force.

Incidentally, both of these tasks require him to tame unions that put their own members’ rewards way above public service.

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