London’s police force is recruiting bilingual officers as it tries to better engage with the capital’s diverse communities.
In a one-month drive, the Metropolitan Police Service is seeking candidates able to speak and understand one of 14 different languages, including Arabic, Bengali and Punjabi. Candidates will be tested on their second language as part of a “rigorous selection process,” it said in an e-mailed statement Monday. Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, German, Greek, Sinhalese, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Turkish and Yoruba are the other languages in demand.
The move is the Met’s latest effort to make its officers more representative of the city: the force introduced a residency criteria in August 2014 requiring candidates to have lived in London for at least three of the last six years. Latest figures show a general decline in crime in London since 2012, but violence with injury has risen 14 percent in the period.
“I am committed to providing a police service which looks and feels more like London,” Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said in the statement. “We know almost 300 languages are spoken in the capital. We need to recruit and deploy officers with second languages in areas where those languages are spoken. I believe it will help boost confidence, help to solve crime more effectively and support victims and witnesses.”