Steve O’Connell AM chair’s the Metropolitan Police Authority’s Finance and Resources Committee. He is also a loyal member of Mayor Boris Johnson’s Conservative team at City Hall.
So it is not surprising that he tried a few linguistic tricks when he found himself chairing a meeting this afternoon to discuss a paper from the Metropolitan Police snappily entitled “Quarterly Management Report – Quarter One“.
The trouble is he’s not very good at the art of spin.
He started the meeting by saying that the report’s recommendations needed amending because they referred to a “freeze on police officer recruitment” whereas, as he put it, all there was was “a temporary pause in recruitment” pending the outcome of the comprehensive spending review that George Osborne will announce on October 20th.
This clearly came as a surprise to the senior management of the Metropolitan Police present particularly as the report itself pointed out:
“Workforce planning will … be affected by the officer recruitment freeze which has been implemented because of future budget pressures.”
and then talked about revising:
“the deployment plan to reflect the impact of the recruitment freeze”.
So it does sound like a recruitment freeze then.
And that’s certainly what it feels like to the potential recruits who have spent the last year or so going through the assessment and selection process, been successful in that process and were only waiting for a start date at the Hendon Police College. They have now received letters saying that as a result of the freeze there applications are no longer being taken forward. They can of course apply to be Special Constables and be trained to do the same job as an unpaid volunteer.
But to Steve O’Connell, who is so highly regarded by his colleagues that he is paid five-sixths of the Prime Minister’s salary, this is just a pause – until we see what he referred to as – in an interesting choice of words – “horrors” the spending review brings.
In the O’Connell lexicon, a “pause” is what everyone else would call a “freeze”.
So, if SpinMeister-General O’Connell says the spending review is going to bring “horrors”, what will everyone else call it?