Page last updated at 17:34 GMT, Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Long wait for dream career in the Metropolitan Police

By Dhruti Shah
BBC News

The Metropolitan Police has revealed that 2,000 applicants who successfully passed its rigorous recruitment process have no jobs to go to because fewer warranted officers are leaving, contrary to expectations.

Here two of those candidates explain how they are coping with the uncertainty. Both did not want to be identified as they were afraid of the possible implications on their careers.

Male candidate in his 20s from south London

"I have always wanted to be a Met Police officer - I first considered joining when I was 18 but decided to get some life experience first.

"But last year I decided to go for it. The Met is the best force to work for and although I had the opportunity to apply for other forces, this was the only one I wanted.

Two Metropolitan police officers (file pic)
The force has been forced to implement a recruitment freeze

"It was an extremely long recruitment process, far longer than I expected. I was told the whole process, from filling out the 36 page application form to starting the role, would take six months. That's obviously not been the case here.

"I was successful enough to get through to the Day One assessment at Hendon. This involved taking part in four role play situations, writing two essays, a numerical exam, a verbal logic exam and a one-to-one interview.

"Everyone was really nervous on the day but I made quite a few friends and we've been in touch since then updating each other on our progress.

"I was really pleased with my high results and about a month afterwards had our Day Two assessment. That involved a medical and fitness test.

I don't think it's fair if we have to go through the whole process again

"I then had my vetting and security clearance and thought that would be it. I was wrong.

"I've had to contact the recruitment officers on several occasions to try to find out what was happening. They've sent several letters out which keep postponing the start date.

"What's worse is they've now used the answers of a questionnaire they initially said would not be marked but was for monitoring purposes, to decide when we can start. They said my results on that life skills questionnaire were not high enough for a March start but haven't told me when I will begin.

"What's worse is that the results from the Day One assessment are supposed to run out after a year and it's likely I won't start until that year has passed. I don't think it's fair if we have to go through the whole process again."

Female candidate in her 20s from outside London

"I've always loved criminology and finding out more about crime and victims and everything to do with that. It was a natural progression for me to apply to the Met but I knew it would take at least a year for my application to go through.

"I didn't think it would take as long as it has though, or that I would still be waiting.

"The Day One assessment was very hard. It began at 0830 GMT and took several hours. It was intensive work but I had tried to prepare in advance.

"I had spoken to someone in the British Transport Police about how best to do this and I bought three books on the recruitment process as it's a job I've wanted for a long time.

"But it was difficult and if we do have to do it again, I'm not sure I could go through it all one more time.

Police trainees. File pic
The candidates want to be among those one day passing out in Hendon

"After that we had the fitness exams but that wasn't too bad.

"I've mainly found out what's going on via the friends I met on the day and via two online forums. If it wasn't for them, I'd have far less information in my hands.

"We were told in September last year that we were likely to start in March. But in December we received another letter saying we'd be looking at a 2010 start date if we were one of the lucky ones.

"Apparently another letter came out in January postponing that further but I haven't got that yet. I've called the recruitment team several times and they keep saying they'll send it out but I haven't seen it.

"I'm working for a charity currently but there was a point when we didn't know if we would have any funding. That worried me because my job situation is so unsure. I have to pay back my student loans and I need to have a job. I was relying on this one to start sooner.

"I don't like phoning up the recruiters because I don't think they like it and the advice they give is conflicting.

"I certainly don't want to have to move forces though as I applied to the Met because it fitted my present life situation."

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