Police chief for Banbury worried officers will leave for London
Mr Barber was one of eight southern-based PCCs to co-sign a letter to London’s mayor Sadiq Khan urging him to intervene in the Metropolitan Police’s plans to offer £5,000 to officers to get them to transfer from other forces.
Condemnation of that move gained political support from Councillor Simon Rouse (Con, Buckinghamshire Council) who said the policy “clearly was not the right approach for policing across the country overall”.
Mr Barber said: “You will have seen my letter to the Mayor of London, I got a response back which basically said ‘tough, we are going to do it anyway’, which was to be expected I suppose.
“It poses a real risk. At the moment that risk does not seem to be materialising.”
He continued: “Ultimately we can’t solve the problems with police numbers by stealing between forces. It doesn’t serve anyone.
“I am pleased to say that anecdotally, talking to officers to the east of Thames Valley where they might be most tempted given the transport links, many have said that while they are tempted – it's five grand, they could do with the money – do they necessarily want to join the Met?
“They quite enjoy Thames Valley, there is a good atmosphere, not everyone is happy but there is definitely that feeling that they want to be part of their local force. That is one of the benefits we have.”
Mr Barber revealed that Thames Valley had recently increased south-east weighting – extra pay to cover the increased cost of living in the area – to the maximum allowed, albeit not in response to the Met’s measures.
“That comes at a cost in itself but I think it recognises that we don’t just recruit, we retain our officers,” he said.
“We can’t get into that war of wages with the Met because there are caps on what we can do. It is still a watching brief, I don’t think it is as bad as I may have feared but I just don’t think it is good practice from another force.”