Recruitment drive welcome but must deliver genuine uplift
The government’s recruitment plans are a promising start but must deliver a genuine uplift of new officers, warns the National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales.
The Home Office has today (September 5) launched its national campaign to recruit 20,000 police officers following the Prime Minister’s commitment to bolster the service over the next three years.
The Chancellor yesterday announced funding to support the recruitment of a first wave of officers, this includes £750 million for 2020-21 and an immediate £45 million to kick-start recruitment.
The remainder will be recruited in 2021-22 and 2022-23 through extra central funding and will be additional to officers hired to fill existing vacancies.
It is not yet clear how they will be shared among the 43 forces in England and Wales.
Reacting to the announcement, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter, said: "We welcome the launch of the campaign, and the government funding backing it, as it represents a desperately-needed lifeline to a service drowning as it is swamped by increasing demand and diminishing capacity. And I cannot deny that the government appears to be making good on its pledges.
"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 campaign, urging people to join the police and 'Be a force for all', is the largest recruitment drive in decades and will slowly begin to undo the damage left by years of austerity measures. Since 2010, the service has lost almost 22,000 officers.
It features serving police officers, including a neighbourhood officer, a police dog handler and a firearms officer. One of the officers started as a volunteer Special Constable, while another is a former charity executive who changed career.
They appear on billboards and digital displays at locations across England and Wales, including at shopping centres and trains stations, as well as in a radio advertisement. A second phase of advertising is planned for the new year.
A new website has also been set up to provide potential recruits with more information and direct them force recruitment pages.
A National Policing Board, chaired by the Home Secretary and bringing together government and police leaders, has been set up to oversee the recruitment drive and other major policing issues.
Mr Apter continued: “I am determined to do all that I can to fight for my members to make sure the government holds firm on its promise. And as these changes take effect it is vital the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing engage with us fully to ensure officers’ voices are heard and listened to,” he concluded.