27 July 2019
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed the recruitment of 20,000 new police officers in England and Wales will begin within weeks.
Mr Johnson, who was officially appointed Prime Minister on Wednesday, clearly wasted no time in fulfilling the pledge to boost officer numbers made while he campaigned to become leader of the Conservative Party.
In his first speech as PM, he said: “My job is to make your streets safer — and we are going to begin with another 20,000 police on the streets and we start recruiting forthwith.”
He wants the recruitment drive complete within three years.
Tony Wetton, chair of Derbyshire Police Federation, has welcomed the news: “We have seen police officer numbers fall every year since 2010 with a total reduction of more than 22,000 in that time. It is no surprise to me, nor anyone else in policing, that with a reduction in police officer numbers we have seen a surge in crime, particularly violent crime.
“Our communities have been suffering and so have police officers themselves as they have tried to do more with less. Let’s hope that this recruitment drive gets underway as quickly as the Prime Minister says and that there is an investment in the resources needed to ensure these new recruits are properly selected, trained and supported.”
The College of Policing has already warned of ‘logistical challenges’ in taking on the new recruits, in part due to concerns about a lack of instructors for training.
Chief executive Mike Cunningham said it was not just about ‘getting people through the doors’ but also about the assessment process, recruitment campaigns, vetting and training.
Mr Johnson has announced a national policing board, chaired by the new home secretary, Priti Patel, would be formed to support the recruitment plans and bring together police leaders.
As part of the new Prime Minister’s Cabinet re-shuffle, Nick Hurd has been replaced as policing minister by Kit Malthouse who has also commented on the recruitment plans.
Mr Malthouse, who during Mr Johnson’s time as Mayor of London served as his deputy mayor for policing from 2008 to 2012, admitted in an interview on Radio 4 that taking on the new recruits could be delayed if there is nowhere for them to be based. Due to the Government’s funding cuts, more than 600 police stations across England and Wales have been shut down.
“While, of course, there are some issues that need to be addressed, I think it is a sign the new Prime Minister does recognise that the cuts to policing, as the Federation has said all along, have had serious consequences, consequences for the public who have seen a rise in crime and consequences for police officers who have seen their wellbeing seriously compromised,” says Tony.
“Let’s hope that with a re-investment in policing, we can see a return to an effective and motivated police service, a more visible policing presence in our communities, a reduction in crime and improved safety on our streets.”