27 April 2023
Derbyshire Police has easily exceeded its target of recruiting new officers under the Government’s Police Uplift Programme, according to new figures from the Home Office.
But Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton said policing would take many years to recover from years of underfunding and the damage it caused despite the influx of new officers.
The Force was allocated an extra 283 officers when the scheme was launched in 2019 but has actually recruited 351 and now employs 2,178 officers compared to 1,827 when the uplift campaign began.
It now has more officers than it did in 2010 when the Conservative Government started to cut officer numbers due to its austerity measures. The number stood at 2,100 but the headcount had fallen as low as 1,723 by the end of 2018 after years of funding cuts.
Tony welcomed the increase in officer numbers and said he looked forward to working alongside the new recruits.
But he added: “The figures show we have more officers than we did when the funding cuts began so that is positive news but in real terms we are still behind where we need to be.
“The three year Uplift Programme has only replaced those hundreds of officers that we lost over that ten-year period and policing has suffered during that time and will take some considerable time to recover – probably years.
“Let’s not allow ourselves to be fooled into ignoring the damage done over those years through the completely unsustainable pressure on officers, both in terms of huge workloads and the many extra hours and days that they had to work to keep policing running.
“We also have to consider that the demands on policing have increased considerably in that time too.
“The challenge now is to retain the new recruits, and indeed their more experienced colleagues, so we will be looking at pay and conditions, training, equipment and resources and making sure that police officer wellbeing is at the heart of the service.
“Officers need to feel valued, respected and well-supported in their work so we need to see a genuine commitment to long-term investment in the police service and also an increase in pay to make up for all the years where officers have received a real terms pay cut.”
Tony Wetton said uplift had simply replaced officers lost through cutbacks
Tony continued: “The Government may well trumpet Forces’ achievement in recruiting huge numbers of new officers – and we warmly welcome them – but we are miles away from feeling anything other than taken advantage of due to their lack of ability to take the industrial action they see being taken by others in the public sector.”
Nationwide, a total of 20,951 extra recruits have joined the service under the Police Uplift Programme.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Twitter: “In 2019 we promised to recruit 20,000 additional police officers in England and Wales to make our streets safer and protect communities. Today, I’m pleased to say we have delivered that promise.”
Home Secretary Suella Braverman described it as a “historic moment for our country”.
During a speech in Westminster, she said: “We should be immensely proud of what we’ve achieved in the last few years.
“Many said we couldn’t do it but this is a police success, a Home Office success and a Conservative government success.”
She denied that policing was the “failure of austerity” and insisted the new recruitment figures were a success.
Asked whether it was fair to say that cuts to the police service in previous years had been a “problem”, she replied: “No. Since 2010, we see that overall crime has fallen. When you take out fraud and online crime, it’s almost 50 per cent lower than it was in 2010.”
Police Federation national chair Steve Hartshorn said the latest figures did not stand up to scrutiny.
He said: “The reality is, considering population growth of more than four million since 2010, even with an uplift of 20,000 officers, we will have fewer officers on the streets than we had a decade ago.
“Half of all police forces now have fewer officers than they had in 2010 and voluntary resignations have almost doubled.”