Campaign to recruit 20,000 new police officers launched
The biggest police recruitment drive in decades got underway on Thursday (September 5) urging people to ‘Be a force for all’.
The campaign follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s commitment to increase police officer numbers by 20,000 over the next three years.
On Wednesday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer allocated £45 million in the current year and £750 million in 2020/21 to support the recruitment of a first wave of up to 6,000 officers, to be shared among the 43 forces in England and Wales.
The Home Office said the remaining 14,000 will be recruited in the following two years, backed by government funding, and will be additional to officers hired to fill existing vacancies.
It is yet to announce how many will be allocated to each force and if the funding can be used to hire police staff, as chief constables believe it will not be possible to take on such a large number of officers without adding to support roles.
However, the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) said the campaign must be about fully-warranted police officers and warned that failure to adhere to the promise on officer numbers will erode trust in the Government.
The ‘Be a force for all’ campaign features serving police officers, including a neighbourhood officer, a police dog handler and a firearms officer, appearing on billboards and digital displays at locations across England and Wales, and in a radio advertisement.
A new website has also been set up to provide potential recruits with more information and direct them to the recruitment pages of local police forces.
A second phase of advertising is planned for the new year.
Mr Johnson said: “Getting more police on our streets is an absolute priority and I’m delighted our recruitment campaign for 20,000 new officers is now under way.
“I have been clear from day one I will give the police the resources they need and I am delivering on that commitment.
“They have my full support and together we will cut crime, get criminals off the streets and keep people safe.”
Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Martin Hewitt said the campaign represents a significant opportunity for policing.
“This net increase in officers will help us provide a better service to the public, reduce crime, and ease the unprecedented pressure on our people. It will also help us to accelerate our plans to improve diversity in policing,” Mr Hewitt said.
“It also opens up the exciting opportunity for a career in policing to many more people. If you want a varied career and to make a positive difference in your community, policing could be for you. We want to attract people from a range of backgrounds with a range of skills who will complement the able, professional officers and staff currently working across policing to keep people safe.”
But he warned that recruiting 20,000 officers over three years is unprecedented and will require significant planning.
“We are confident we can fulfil this commitment with the right resources and support from the government,” he added.
PFEW National Chair John Apter welcomed the campaign and the government funding backing it, saying it represents “a desperately-needed lifeline to a service drowning as it is swamped by increasing demand and diminishing capacity”.
“However – as ever – the devil will be in the detail which is still to be confirmed. Police officers have been battered and bruised, and they cannot tolerate any more broken promises.
“This must be a genuine uplift of fully-warranted police officers, if it is watered down in any way – or the numbers fudged – it will further erode the trust of a police service already so disillusioned.”
The National Policing Board, chaired by the Home Secretary, will oversee the recruitment drive.