Page last updated at 06:59 GMT, Monday, 29 March 2010 07:59 UK

Met Police criticised over recruitment advert 'waste'

Police trainees. File pic
The Met said no further advertising is currently taking place

The Metropolitan Police force has been criticised for spending almost £170,000 advertising for recruits before bringing in a recruitment freeze.

The force took out 80 adverts between February 2009 and the freeze being brought in a year later, a BBC Freedom of Information Request revealed.

Jenny Jones, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said bad communication had led to wasted money.

The Met said it was now only advertising for specific vacancies.

The freeze has meant 2,000 successful applicants to become police officers have been told to wait indefinitely before starting roles.

The Met said at the time there were fewer jobs because of the "current economic position".

It sounds as if two parts of the Met were not talking to each other - which is exactly the way to waste a lot of money
Jenny Jones AM

In the run-up to the announcement, the police spent a total of £169,635 on 56 newspaper adverts, 17 two-week radio campaigns and seven online recruitment drives for police officers.

A further £152,237 was spent advertising for PCSOs.

Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, had warned budget cuts could affect police staffing levels in July 2009.

He said then: "The prospect of cutting both officer and staff numbers in order to keep running costs down is fast becoming a reality."

Ms Jones, a Green Party member of the London Assembly, said: "It sounds as if two parts of the Met were not talking to each other - which is exactly the way to waste a lot of money.

'Wrong priorities'

"It shows the commission has got a bit of work to do."

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "The Met seem to have got their priorities completely wrong if they are still spending a fortune on advertising despite their budget troubles.

"As police budgets are squeezed it's more important than ever that the focus is on cutting out waste and maintaining the essential services that the public use."

A Met spokeswoman said: "We have around 2,000 candidates in the system waiting for a start date. This is due to successful recruitment campaigns.

"We are currently developing options to manage the remaining candidates in the system.

"No further advertising is currently taking place other than for a specific vacancy."

The government wants the 43 police forces in England and Wales to find total savings of £545m by 2014.

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