Metropolitan Police (MPS) chief Sir Mark Rowley is questioning the wisdom of rapid recruitment of thousands on new officers to the force.
MPS is due to bring in 4,500 extra bobbies by April 2023 after consistent criticism about numbers.
The drive is part of the Home Office target to recruit 20,000 extra staff to replace those lost during the post-crash austerity period.
Sir Mark made his remarks to the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee on Wednesday and said he was carrying out a review because he is “concerned” about the speed of hiring new officers.
Sir Mark said: “I’m doing a review on that at the moment looking at a) can we recruit that many and b) can we do it with the quality that’s required and bring them into the organisation in a way that doesn’t destabilise them?
“There’s multiple factors there. Just recruiting headlong without making sure you’re bringing the right people in, giving them the best start, the best training and an organisation that’s able to support them and deploy them properly. All of those issues are important and I’m concerned about whether it’s wise to go at exactly that speed and that’s why I’m reviewing it.”
In the summer, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of the Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services said problems at the MPS were made worse by the number of young and inexperienced recruits in the force as a result of the recruitment drive.
Sir Mark’s concerns appear to be echoed by the former chief inspector of constabulary, Sir Thomas Winsor, who flagged worries in the summer that the “sheer magnitude and speed” of the recruitment campaign “inevitably carries risks”.
There is a “heightened danger that people unsuited to policing may get through and be recruited”, he said.
He said that vetting is of “enormous importance”, he told reporters it was “essential” that recruitment and continual monitoring of the police workforce is of the “highest standard”.
The findings of Baroness Casey’s review of the MPS’s culture, commissioned by former commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, are due to be published soon.
Sir Mark reported the force is in the process of issuing staff with work phones to make sure they have the “right technology” needed to do the job, after it emerged officers were using their own mobiles because of a because of a lack of equipment or up-to-date technology.