Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Met's Response to Terror Attacks Threatened by Too Many 'Commuter Cops'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Met's Response to Terror Attacks Threatened by Too Many 'Commuter Cops'

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Cecil Deputy Political Editor

SCOTLAND Yard's ability to respond to a terror attack is being threatened by sky-high property prices forcing thousands of officers to become "commuter cops" living outside London, a new report warned today.

It raised the alarm over police officers giving up hope of being able to afford a home in the capital.

The Policy Exchange study called for the Met to offer a range of financial support for housing and to encourage 3,000 more officers to live in inner-London over the next five years.

The think tank found that of the 18,179 officers assigned to borough policing, only 8,896 just under half lived in Greater London as of last September. In Islington, out of 572 officers assigned to police the borough only two lived there.

Report author Glyn Gaskarth said: "Having a police force that lives outside London affects the ability of the Met to mobilise sufficient numbers of officers to deal with terrorist incidents or civil disturbances."

Officers resident in London were more likely to pick up intelligence, the study added. They were also more use off-duty in the capital than in surrounding counties.

The Met has sought to encourage more officers to have homes in London, including the introduction of a rule in 2014 that they must have lived in the city for three out of the past six years before joining the force.

Concessionary rail travel that allows officers to commute greater distances has also been cut for new recruits.

Scotland Yard said the residency rule had been "successful" in ensuring new constables better understood and reflected "modern" London.

And the force denied counter-terrorism operations could be undermined by having so many officers living outside the capital.

Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey said: "We have tried and tested plans to allow us to respond at pace and effectively to a range of critical incidents and do not believe that these are in any way jeopardised by the places officers currently live. …

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