Police Federation

New focus required to attract recruits with 'life experience'

29 October 2020

National Chair John Apter

National Chair John Apter

More needs to be done to attract new police recruits with previous ‘life experience’ and those from military or public sector backgrounds.

That was the response of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) Chair after the Home Office provided an update on the Police Uplift programme which was designed to recruit an extra 20,000 officers by 2023.

PFEW National Chair John Apter said: “Clearly this increase in officer numbers is positive news for policing, and it’s something we have desperately needed.

“For years PFEW has been calling for more officers to be recruited to help fix the damage that has been done after a decade of damaging cuts. We are now seeing that much needed increase.

“What we also need to look at is if the current recruitment process is attractive enough for potential new recruits who had other careers and more life experience. All too often I hear they do not feel wanted in policing, and this is wrong. This isn’t helped by the tone of messaging in recruitment advertisements, which is often geared towards graduates.

“Policing must do far more to attract new recruits from the military or public sector for example. To have a healthy mix of new recruits with life experience is good for policing and essential. We will continue to raise this point with the Home Office."

So far, 5,824 officers have been recruited through the scheme bringing the total number of officers in England and Wales to 134,885.

Police numbers across 43 forces fell from 143,734 in 2010 to 123,142 in 2017.

Just over 10 per cent of new recruits are from a BAME background - remaining below the representation of such ethnic groups in the general population which is 14 per cent. While around four in ten (39 per cent) new recruits have been female.

Mr Apter added: “As the programme continues, it is also vital for the service to be more representative and reflect the communities we serve. More needs to be done to recruit officers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. While good progress has been made, we need to continue to do all we can to ensure policing is an attractive profession for all members of the communities we serve.

“Policing is something I’m proud to be a part of. For many it’s far more than just a job - it’s a vocation and a way of life. But let’s not forget, as welcome as the pledge of 20,000 new officers is, it won’t fill the gap of the 22,000 police officers we lost under the previous Prime Minister.

“We will need even more police officers if we are to manage the ever-increasing pressures my colleagues face every single day,” he concluded.

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