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Last Updated: Monday, 19 January, 2004, 19:35 GMT
Police numbers 'are highest ever'
Metropolitan Police officers
The Metropolitan Police force held recruitment fairs across England
The Metropolitan Police Service is the largest it has ever been, after topping 30,000 officers.

The newest intake, of 322 recruits at Hendon Training School, has swelled numbers to their highest since the force was founded in 1829.

Scotland Yard described it as an "historic milestone" marked by a special reception at Hendon on Monday.

The government's target number of officers for the Met is 35,000 - of which 25% should be black or Asian.

The London force has grown by nearly 5,000 in the past three years - of which 6% are from ethnic minorities.

It has held recruitment fairs across England in an attempt to meet its quota of black and Asian officers by 2010.

London police numbers
1829: 1,000
1980: 23,691
1990: 28,364
2001: 25,430
2004: 30,200
Changes to the law have meant the force has also been able to start recruiting foreign nationals with good written and spoken English.

Commissioner Sir John Stevens told BBC London News that people were now queueing up to join the Met.

"We have a massive waiting list. There's enough people wanting to join the Metropolitan Police to take us right through the whole of this year."

He said he eventually wanted 35,000 officers so that more could be deployed on the streets.

Of the 322 new recruits at Hendon on Monday, 128 were women and 57 were from ethnic minorities.

'Policing revolution'

The fall in police numbers has been reversed from 2001 and Sir John described the recent rate of growth as "phenomenal".

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, who sets the Metropolitan Police Authority's annual budget, said it was a "major breakthrough in the fight against crime".

He added: "For years people have talked about the policing revolution in New York under mayor Giuliani, but London now has its own policing revolution to be proud of.

"We have reached historic numbers of police in this city in a few short years and we are beginning to make a difference to the streets of London in the process. "

BBC London's Guy Smith
"Recruit, recruit and recruit some more is the mantra of the Metropolitan Police."

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