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Gloucestershire Police Federation

'A “significant proportion” of police officers in the force are inexperienced, which makes it difficult to deal with increasing demand'

4 December 2023


A “significant proportion” of police officers in the force are inexperienced, which makes it difficult to deal with increasing demand, the Chair of Gloucestershire Police Federation has said.

Steve James was commenting after Assistant Chief Constable Richard Ocone gave an update on the Constabulary’s progress when it came out of special measures. ACC Ocone said: “We’ve got a really inexperienced workforce. We’ve got high workload demands on those young officers because they are required to do a degree, generally.”

A report has found that, nationally, officers with fewer than five years’ service will make up nearly 40% of the police workforce by next year. Steve added: “Across our frontline response officers, that number is likely to be 80%.”

Steve continued: “This is an issue we’ve discussed with our Assistant Chief Constable and in force. We have got a really inexperienced workforce and it’s a potential barrier to sector recovery.

“Due to the uplift, we’ve been able to replace the vast majority of officers that we lost 10 years ago, but when we lost those officers we lost all the experience that they had.

“While we’ve got the numbers in, because of the speed and the scale at which we had to do the recruiting, there is now a significant proportion of our officers who just don’t have the experience in their job, or the life experience because they’re young.

“People might say: ‘You’ve got almost the same number of officers as you did 10 years ago, you should be as effective as you were 10 years ago’, but that’s not necessarily the case because those officers don’t have that experience. You can’t expect the same results.

“The public will see that the officers who are responding to calls and putting themselves in danger will be the youngest, most inexperienced officers.”

Steve agreed with ACC Ocone that the new policing degree path was one reason for this, saying: “Because officers are recruited through the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship now, they’re increasingly younger as a demographic than they ever were, and don’t bring with them that past working experience and past life experience.”

Low pay was another factor, he said: “Because of our struggle for fair pay, it’s harder to recruit older officers. And in terms of retention, there’s no incentive for more experienced officers to stay in frontline response roles. It’s a demanding role, and officers can burn out just at the point where they get to their peak effectiveness.

“Certainly there’s no financial incentive for officers to stay in that role, but it is often the most thankless of policing tasks so there’s very little professional incentive to stay in those roles either. It is difficult.

“Workload demands are significant in all policing areas at the moment. Police forces around the country are struggling to meet the demands that the Government and society seems to think that we can do.”


July 2024