6 March 2023
The Federation’s national deputy chair, Tiff Lynch, says the Government’s target of 20,000 additional officers is not even half of what is required to keep the communities of England and Wales safe.
As the Government edges closer to its self-imposed target of 20,000 new officers for forces across the country by the end of March 2023, Tiff believes a whole lot more resources need to be provided as demand continues to ‘go through the roof’.
“The 20,000 additional officers were to plug the gap of the officers we have lost since 2010,” says Tiff. “What we actually need are 50,000 new officers to maintain the levels of what we had back in 2010.
“There’s an ever-increasing population and demand is going through the roof. We are also doing additional roles that are outside of policing, so we absolutely have to keep the momentum going when the 20,000 figure is hit.
“We are losing officers hand over fist, whether that be through natural attrition or moving abroad in search of better opportunities or lifestyle for their families. So, recruitment cannot just stop when we have reached that limit and the Government says we have given you that subsidy of 20,000. Quite simply, we need more officers, much more.”
Tiff believes that numbers leaving the police service are now greater than they have ever been and that many young officers joining forces across the country are not looking at policing as a career but as just another job.
“When officers previously and historically joined the police service, myself included, it was for a 30-year career,” added Tiff. “What we are seeing now is a younger population who don’t see policing as a career. Some of them see it as a stop-gap or an experience needed to gain qualifications to jump onto another ladder that could be linked to policing.
“We have a younger workforce who, across all sectors, find it easier to move from one employment to the next and then the next. Under those circumstances, holding on to new officers becomes ever harder.”
Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton supported Tiff’s comments about the need to recruit tens of thousands more officers to meet the demands on the service – and suggested the figure was even higher than 50,000.
But he added that, in his experience, younger officers did see policing as a career and not as a stepping stone to other roles in different sectors.
Tony said: “When the recruitment drive began we actually needed to recruit 50,000 officers just to reach the uplift target of 20,000 because of the numbers leaving over the past three years.
“Now we need even more officers to deal with the heightened demand being placed on policing through population increase and the complexity of modern crime – the 20,000 being recruited in the Government’s Uplift programme is not enough.”
Tony added: “Tiff is right in that we do have more officers leaving than we had in the past.
“However, in my experience they’re not going abroad but leaving because of working conditions or retirement. We need to do all we can to prevent a brain drain from the service.
“And the evidence I have from speaking to all new student officers over the past couple of years is that they do all join with the intention of spending their careers as police officers.”
The Police Uplift Programme, announced under the leadership of the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2019, pledged to deliver 20,000 new officers by the end of March this year.
Latest figures suggest a struggle to hit that target with just a few weeks remaining.
Whether that figure is reached on time, or not, Tiff says the big focus now must be on what comes next.
“We just don’t know what the Government’s plans are when the 20,000 target is hit but it is simply going to have to keep the recruitment drive going,” says Tiff. “It will all come down to money and, as we keep getting told, there is no money.
“The stark reality is, if the Government truly wants a police service that it keeps saying it desperately wants and desperately needs, it is going to have to invest and that investment has to be in people because you can’t have a service without people.”