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27 April 2023
Gwent Police has met its target of recruiting new officers under the Government’s Police Uplift Programme, new Home Office figures show.
The Force was allocated an extra 206 officers when the scheme was launched in 2019 and now employs 1,539 officers compared to 1,300 when the uplift campaign began - an increase of 239.
The current headcount is higher than 2010 when it stood at 1,423 but that figure had fallen as low as 1,269 by the start of 2019 after several years of austerity-led funding cuts.
Gwent Police Federation chair Matthew Candy welcomed the increase in officer numbers but warned the figures could be misleading.
He said: “Our members have been under relentless pressure with rising workloads and increased demands as the cuts made during austerity had a huge impact.
“At best, some sort of balance has now been redressed but in reality the Force still needs more officers than it took on under the uplift scheme if it wants to offer an effective service to the people of this region.”
Nationwide, a total of 20,951 extra recruits have joined the service under the Police Uplift Programme and the only Force that failed to meet its target was the Met.
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.”