Police Federation

Blog: Facts and figures – why numbers really matter

29 August 2019

National Chair John Apter

National Chair John Apter

When Boris Johnson became Prime Minister he stood on the steps of Number 10 and made a promise to police officers.

He promised to recruit 20,000 more, reinvigorating the number to almost what it was before his predecessors’ austerity policies took their terrible toll on the service.

It was a well-judged move, a popular choice and some might say a potential vote-winner if there were (hypothetically) to be an election any time soon….

But for my members and for policing it represents much more than a catchy headline or punchy policy promise - it represents a life line to a service drowning as it is swamped by increasing demand and diminishing capacity.

For them it means not spending an entire shift singled crewed; it means a fully staffed neighbourhood team really able to make a difference to their local community; it means our detectives are given the time and resources to thoroughly investigate crime, care for their victims and bring those responsible to justice.

Put simply – it’s the ability to do the job they signed up for - properly and safely.  

And that is why it is so personal to me. I know the real difference it will make to my colleagues on the streets and to the communities they serve.

So I am determined to do all that I can to ensure the promise made by Mr Johnson, and reiterated by his Home Secretary, is kept. And that the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing engage with us fully on this so we can ensure members’ voices are heard.

This week, media reports are suggesting that 7,000 of the 20,000 additional officers will be allocated to the National Crime Agency (NCA) and therefore not frontline police officers in the 43 forces of England and Wales. I am deeply concerned by this. While the work of the NCA is incredibly important in the fight against national and international crime, during my meeting with the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, last week she assured me that 20,000 meant 20,000 new frontline police officer posts. I have written to her to seek clarification.

I have been more than willing to engage with the new Government because a positive relationship with them can result in tangible benefits for our members which will help improve the service we are able to provide to the public. And I have heard some good things.

But my job is not to be the friend of those in power, it is to represent my members and fight on their behalf.

And if those in power try and fudge these numbers or employ smoke and mirrors as previous ministers have then our relationship will change.

Police officers have been battered and bruised, and they cannot tolerate any more broken promises. This must be a genuine uplift of fully warranted police officers– if it is watered down in anyway it will further erode the trust of a police service already so disillusioned.

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