'Ello, Hola, salve – London police officers given courses in dealing with public in Spanish, Polish, Russian, Arabic…

London officers given courses in dealing with public in Spanish, Polish, Russian, Arabic…

In the multi-cultural melting pot that is the nation's capital, it is the sort of question that is bound to arise once in a while for London's 31,000 police officers: how do you say "Which way did he go?" in Arabic? Or Polish. Or Spanish. Or Bulgarian. Or Vietnamese. Or Farsi.

An increasing number of London's beat bobbies will soon be able to answer such questions without reverting to a dictionary, or Google Translate. An initiative which gives new meaning to gags about the "word of plod" has been launched by the Metropolitan Police offering language lessons to officers so they can speak in the mother tongue of the capital's burgeoning ethnic communities.

A pilot project, which saw more than 150 police taking part in computer-based courses last year, has been judged so successful that a second wave of courses will run this year. Would-be polyglot bobbies will be offered lessons in 18 languages, ranging from French to Mandarin, at a cost of £400 per officer.

The aim of the lessons, open to all officers but offered with a preference to beat officers, is to allow Scotland Yard staff to improve communication with minority groups when offering crime prevention advice or in situations such as answering a 999 call.

An internal briefing document seen by The Independent states another of the goals of the programme is to "change public perception" of the force.

The courses, which offer 40 hours of learning over six weeks, aim to offer a level of knowledge comparable to a GCSE, with vocabulary tailored to the needs of policing.

In a reflection of the shifting nature of London's ethnic mix, the most popular courses taken up so far are Arabic, Polish and Spanish.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "Policing a city as diverse as London requires our officers… to engage with different communities and the languages spoken with them. We have recently offered officers and staff the opportunity to develop their language skills in order to improve direct communication between police and the communities we serve."

The newly conversant officers join a list of 1,000 Yard staff who are already registered as having specialist language skills because of their family background or previous experience.

The courses range from mainstream European languages such as French, German and Italian to more exotic tongues matching migration patterns into Britain and community groups across the capital. Other languages on offer include Bulgarian, Korean, Lithuanian, Rom-anian, Russian, Somali, Turkish and Vietnamese.

The Met expects to fill the 120 places available this year for the courses, which culminate in a three-day assessment. Opinion among the rank and file, once they have recovered from the shock of swapping charge sheets for role-playing as a Bengali businessman, seems positive. One officer said: "Probably the hardest course I have done for 20 years in the Met. But also probably the best and very rewarding."

The polyglot police

Spanish

How many drinks have you had today? Cuántas bebidas alcoholicas tomaste hoy?

Put your hands on your head. Pon tus manos en tu cabeza

Stay back! Quedense por atras!

Italian

No, don't worry, there is no mafia in London, we have very few drive-by shootings. Non ti preoccupare; non esiste la Mafia a Londra. Ci sono pochi sparatorie da macchina in corsa

'Ello, 'ello, 'ello. Salve, salve, salve

Russian

Yes, I agree, London in the snow doesn't look that different from Moscow. Da, soglasen, pod snegom london ne tak otlichaetsya ot moskvy

Come along quietly. Tikho, tikho, poshli so mnoi

Put the handcuffs on. Nadet' naruchniki

Arabic

What did the suspect look like? Kaif kana shakl al mouttahham?

We would advise you to keep your iPad out of sight. Nansahuka biaan tatruk al ipad ba'idan a'an al-anzar

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Humanities and Economics Teacher - January 2015 - Malaysia

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

SEN Teaching Assistant needed for long term assignment

£45 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are looking for an experienc...

Primary Teachers Required in King's Lynn

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in King's Ly...

Primary Teachers needed in Ely

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain