London’s Metropolitan Police is testing a recruitment policy which will make it a requirement for aspiring police constables to speak another language, in addition to English, in order to be eligible to join the police.
The UK Guardian reports that police authorities see this test-run which will last for a month as a means to help the police “engage with London’s diverse communities as effectively as possible.”
Yoruba is listed as one of the languages which an aspiring candidate should be able to understand. Other languages include Arabic, Bengali, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Sinhala (Sri Lanka), Spanish, or Turkish.
“Whilst our police officers are able to effectively carry out their duties without the ability to speak a second language, a police constable with this skill is an asset in helping both themselves and their colleagues to more effectively engage with the community and deal with everyday policing situations,” said a recruitment update on the website of the Metropolitan Police.
According to the statement, aspiring candidates who are unable to “meet our eligibility criteria” would be “unable to submit an application to become a police officer at this stage.” Those without a second language can still apply to be a special constable.
Scotland Yard said the pilot would be “evaluated and assessed, but there is no information yet as to whether it will be repeated, or whether things will go back to the way they currently operate”.
Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Met commissioner, said: “I am committed to providing a police service which looks and feels more like London.
“We know that 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 solve crime more effectively and support victims and witnesses.”