Would new London police requirements make Australia safer? 145



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Britain’s largest police force has introduced a controversial requirement for new recruits. London Metropolitan Police is advertising for new cadets but, in addition to being fluent in English, applicants must be able to speak and understand at least one of 14 languages from a prescribed list.

The languages are: Arabic, Bengali, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Sinhala (spoken in Sri Lanka), Spanish, Turkish or Yoruba (spoken in Nigeria).

Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Met commissioner, said: “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.”

Scotland Yard has been criticised on social media for asking for too much from potential cadets, and for excluding minority groups outside those that speak the 14 languages, however it says it is hoping the new requirement will help police “engage with London’s diverse communities as effectively as possible”. It is conducting a one-month trial to bolster the number of bilingual bobbies within the force.

Australian cities are increasingly multilingual – more languages are spoken in Melbourne than there are countries in the world, according to The Age – does that mean bilingual police officers are needed here?

If the requirement were brought in here in Australia, the list of language would be quite different.

Across the country, the top languages spoken after English are: Mandarin, Italian, Arabic, Cantonese, Greek, Vietnamese, Spanish, Hindi and Tagalog (spoken in the Philippines).

What do you think about the Met’s new requirement that police cadets be able to speak a second language? Do you think a similar program here would improve public safety? 


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. fuck it, they want to live there, learn english.

    1 REPLY
    • david, that f…word is a real
      English, and a very nice word, isn’t it? What about improving your mother tongue first and then try to learn another language? Smart people do learn languages, not because of migrants but because of themselves?

  2. I thought one of the requirements of coming to Australia to live was to be able to speak the English language, or at least understand it and to be able to make yourself understood. Has that rule been done away with.

    7 REPLY
    • A basic understanding of English is necessary for the Citizenship test but it has never been a requirement for permanent residency. In 2006, 21% of people living in Australia spoke a language other than English at home but less than 1% spoke no English at all.

    • There has never been any rule that a person must be able to speak English to come to Australia to live.

    • They can even get a drives license not being able to read English. Have the questions in there own language BUT our road signs are in English.
      Go figure

    • most cops in other countries can speak some english and can help if you need it,should be the same here ,i think a lot of non english speaking people pretend they cant speak the lingo ,but tell them you will give them money they soon understand.

  3. Wait a minute, Britain is English speaking, in France you speak French, in Australia you speak English, in America you speek English, in any country you need to understand and read and write that language if you wish to live and work there….! That is not a racist view…if you or I moved to any other country, then that would be a requirement.

    3 REPLY
    • Norma when did you last travel overseas, it’s the norm now to embrace other cultures, but they do need to speak english as well. As far back as the 1990’s the college I worked at, the government departments, everywhere had to provide ‘prayer’ facilities.

    • I was in Paris as a tourist in 2012. I spoke no French but I was assisted by a French policeman who spoke very good English so I think multilingual police is a good idea.

  4. We are a many peoples here..and to know another language should help police to be able to get the trust of those groups who dont have english

    1 REPLY
    • If ppl are going live in a country where their own language is not spoken, then they need to learn the language of the country where they live. How hard is that to understand??

  5. Why is it that some groups feel threatened by the though of people speaking a language they can’t understand? I have travelled a lot, but have never been ostracised for not speaking or understanding the local language. Mostly it takes the next generation to have better English skills. My Russian grandparents spoke only broken English when they arrived but their two sons were both able to complete university degrees in this country – one in pharmacy and one in medicine – which required advanced language skills.

  6. Well said Norma, if you move to England speak English, if you can’t do that don’t go there

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