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Concern over huge rise of inexperienced police officers due to swift uplift

19 September 2023

Inexperienced police officers are having to tackle “increasingly complex” scenarios despite their lack of time in the force, the Surrey Police Federation Chair has warned.

Darren Pemble said the policing landscape is becoming more “dangerous” due to holes hardworking officers are having to plug.

It follows new figures revealing a staggering 38 per cent of officers in England and Wales will have less than five years’ service by next year.

The national audit office figure was highlighted by Lee Freeman, HM Inspector of Constabulary, at the Superintendents' Association Annual Conference.

Mr Freeman said the Government’s landmark uplift programme saw speedy recruitment and there will be an inexperienced workforce as a result.

He also said the service was risking a situation where we have “the inexperienced leading the inexperienced”.

The senior police officer’s concerns have been echoed by Darren, who admitted the issue worries him.

“It is concerning that we are now in this position; there has been an experience drain which has flowed out of the service,” said Darren.

“Experienced officers have become disillusioned with the job and have resigned or retired earlier than planned.”

Darren said a perfect storm of poor pay, pensions and “general dismay” at how officers are treated by the public and their respective forces has accelerated early resignations.

He continued: “We cannot continue to respond to what we do right now.

“The Right Care, Right Person initiative is long overdue as the police cannot continue to be the only out of hours public service.

“Policing cannot continue to patch the struggling NHS and continually deal with mental health incidents as we are not trained to help those struggling.

“It is also not fair on the new inexperienced officers to face the ever-dangerous policing landscape.

“We have inexperienced officers leading other inexperienced officers, this cannot be right or fair.”

His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services inspected police forces on how well they managed the uplift recruitment drive throughout 2021/22.

It found learning and development departments across the country struggled against a backdrop of budgetary pressures and the pandemic.

During the Superintendents' Association Annual Conference in Stratford-upon-Avon, Mr Freeman said: “The high operational demands faced by many forces was having a significant impact on the inexperienced student officers that had joined.”

He added pressures placed on the officers “often left very little room for learning or growth.”