6 September 2019
The launch of a Home Office campaign to recruit 20,000 police officers yesterday has been welcomed by Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton.
While there are no confirmed figures for how the new recruits will be distributed, Tony says he hopes Derbyshire will benefit.
“Since the austerity measures began around nine years ago, forces across England and Wales have lost around 23,000 officers and Derbyshire was not immune from those losses,” says Tony.
“At the end of March 2010 we had 2,074 officers and by the end of March this year that had fallen to 1,767 though we dipped as low as 1,710 in 2017. But in that nine-year period, we have seen no corresponding fall in demand for our services. In fact, I would say it has been the exact opposite. Not only have we seen crime rise but we have also seen the emergence of new criminality – cyber-crime and human trafficking, for example – and we have also found ourselves picking up the pieces for other organisations. We have become the service of first and last resort.
“Sadly, our communities have suffered as we have tried to do more with less and officers themselves have struggled as they have felt the pressure of trying to cope with increased demand with reduced resources.
“Let’s hope this recruitment drive brings our officer numbers back up to a level where we can give our communities the policing service they deserve. Our Force has done its best to maintain effective services but I am sure with extra officers we can do better, increase the visible policing presence we know the public wants, be more proactive and also ease the pressure on our officers who have been run ragged in recent years.”
The Home Office campaign, urging people to join the police and ‘Be a force for all’, is the largest police recruitment drive in decades. 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 will appear on billboards and digital displays, including locations such as shopping centres and train stations, across England and Wales 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 to 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.
On Wednesday, Chancellor Sajid Javid announced funding to support the recruitment of a first wave of up to 6,000 officers. This includes £750 million for 2020-21 and an immediate £45 million to kick-start recruitment.
The remaining 14,000 officers will be recruited in 2021-22 and 2022-23 through extra central funding and will be on top of extra officers hired to fill existing vacancies.
National Federation chair 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.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed his commitment to giving police forces extra resources.
He 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.”