Forces ‘on track’ to reach first uplift target of 6,000 new officers
The number of warranted police officers serving in England and Wales has grown by 3,005 since the start of the recruitment uplift, according to figures released today (April 30) by the Home Office.
In total, forces recruited 6,435 officers from November 2019 to March 2020, including recruitment planned before the Government campaign was announced. The additional 3,005 recruits joined the police specifically as part of the uplift programme.
There were 125,811 officers in the 43 territorial forces in England and Wales as at March 31, 2019. Collectively, forces had committed to recruiting an additional 2,825 officers from 2019/20 using increased precept funding, before the announcement of the officer uplift. Of these, 569 had already been recruited by March 31, leaving 2,256 to be recruited throughout the remainder of the year.
There are now a total of 131,596 officers, a five per cent increase on March 2019 – of which uplift officers account for approximately half. The figures suggest that the acceleration of recruitment plans brought about by the uplift will see forces meet their target of an additional 6,000 officers by March 2021.
The Government has committed to recruiting an additional 20,000 police officers by March 2023.
This morning, the Home Secretary Priti Patel held a Zoom call with new recruits at Lancashire Constabulary, where she thanked them for stepping up to join the police and protect the public, particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Patel said: ““Each one of these brave officers will make a difference in helping to cut crime and keep people safe. For many, their first role has been to join the fight to stop the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives.
“Thanks to new digital assessment centres, the doors remain wide open for anyone who wants to join them and make a difference in their community. Getting more police officers on the streets is an absolute priority for the British people – and this Government.”
The College of Policing has announced it is rolling out new online assessment centres, which will ensure that recruitment continues during the coronavirus outbreak.
The online system, which takes candidates through situational judgment tests, briefing exercises and interviews, is currently being trialled by a number of forces, including West Midlands Police and Hampshire Constabulary, and will be launched nationally in June.
All new recruits are receiving tailored training so they can be safely deployed to the front line and support the police’s emergency response as quickly as possible.
College of Policing chief executive officer Chief Constable Mike Cunningham said: “The recruitment figures released today are extremely encouraging and demonstrate the scale and breadth of the positive work that has been undertaken so far to increase police officer numbers.
“The numbers joining the service show that huge progress is already being made to recruit an additional 20,000 officers over the next three years. This investment in the workforce provides a great opportunity to enhance diversity across the service and the College of Policing will equip those joining with the skills and training needed to match the complexity of the job.
“The College of Policing is working hard to enable forces to continue to recruit during the current emergency by introducing online recruit assessment and other measures to help get officers on the streets so they can keep their communities safe.”
Alongside new recruits, the Government recently announced further measures to support the police’s coronavirus response.
These include testing for all essential workers, including police officers and support staff; the relaxation of tax rules to encourage officers nearing retirement and those recently retired to serve; and the unlocking of £84 million for forces to use in fight against coronavirus.
National Police Chiefs’ Council chair Martin Hewitt said: “With over 3,000 additional officers already joining policing in the past seven months, we are well on our way to meeting our target of 6,000 by March next year.
“Working with the Home Office, we are making every effort to keep recruitment of officers going despite all the challenges coronavirus brings. Creative solutions from the College of Policing will help to ensure this momentum is not lost and that recruitment and training can continue during the pandemic.”
Association of Police and Crime Commissioners chair Katy Bourne said: “The positive latest figures for police officer recruitment show that police forces are being innovative in the face of adversity, adapting assessment and training procedures to safely manage the onboarding of the maximum number of new recruits.
“Although we know that the volume of many crime types has fallen due to travel and social restrictions, crime is like water, it always finds a level and the pandemic has created the circumstances for other crimes to mushroom. When there are more people back on the streets there will, sadly, be more crime so we still need those additional police officers that the public have been calling for.
“The Government’s uplift programme will ensure that all police forces have the numbers they need for business as usual and the increased demand of policing safe, social interactions.
“It also shows that there are plenty of people from all walks of life with diverse skills and experiences who want to become police officers at a critical time for our country and join the front line in our collective endeavour against Covid-19.
“Our citizens quite rightly would prefer to see police targeting criminals and preventing crime rather than moving people on from beauty spots, however, having put so much effort into the stay at home campaign over the last five weeks, we still need a police presence to deter those whose impatience and recklessness could spoil it for us all.”