By Peter Wozniak
Applicants hoping to earn salaries as regular police officers may have to first volunteer as special constables, as a cost-cutting measure.
A paper outlining the changes is today being considered by the Metropolitan police authority (MPA).
The proposals would mean the Met would recruit primarily from a ready-trained pool of volunteers, the special constables, as well as community support officers.
The paper argues that this would dramatically reduce costs in the absence of lengthy training periods for new recruits while not overly damaging police services.
"The proposal will result in significant cash savings, improve local service provision and provide participants with a range of transferable skills", it said.
Recruitment campaigns would also become "discrete" and "time-limited", replacing the current long-term "generic" drives.
Currently new entrants to the Metropolitan police undergo a 25-week training period regardless of previous experience, and cost £23,000 over their first two years.
The radical changes would mean that only those applicants with existing training in law and order, especially the unpaid special constables, would be considered for a regular police role.
The move is bound to be contentious as it forces potential police officers to volunteer before they can have a realistic prospect of paid police work.
The cost-cutting drive is supposed to save £20,000 per recruit.
It is a symptom of measures being taken across the public sector in preparation for dramatic budget cuts - under the comprehensive spending review currently being thrashed out between the chancellor George Osborne and Whitehall departments.