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Wiltshire Police Federation

Rank-and-file chief warns PM amid fear 7,000 recruits will not go on frontline

31 August 2019


A POLICE chief representing rank-and-file officers warned ministers yesterday there can be no backtracking on a promise to put 20,000 bobbies on the frontline.

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the service is struggling with “increased demand and diminishing capacity”. He said he was “deeply concerned” that 7,000 of the recruits will join the National Crime Agency and would not be on the frontline. He warned that the good relationship the Police Federation has with ministers will quickly sour if the Government goes back on its word. 

Mr Apter said: “When Boris Johnson became Prime Minister he stood on the steps of No 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. 

“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.” 

Home Office figures show the 43 forces in England and Wales lost 20,564 officers between March 2010 and March this year. Mr Johnson said the recruitment drive would begin within weeks as he promised to get a grip on “Wild West Britain”. 

The pledge comes after one of policing’s darkest months in which 28-year-old newlywed PC Andrew Harper was killed responding to a reported burglary in Berkshire.

PC Harper, with Thames Valley Police’s roads and traffic command, lost his life on August 15, the first officer to die on duty since PC Keith Palmer was stabbed to death outside Parliament in March 2017. 

A week before, PC Stuart Outten, 28, of the Met Police was stabbed in the head as he tried to stop a van suspected of having no insurance in Leyton, east London. He tasered his assailant despite receiving multiple stab wounds. 

 PC Gareth Phillips, 42, was left with life-changing injuries including a broken pelvis and head, abdominal and other internal injuries after he was run over by his own patrol car in Birmingham. 

Figures obtained by the Daily Express showed violent attacks on the police have risen by a third in four years. Officers are now being injured on duty at a rate of 28 a day. 

Bobbies were victims of 10,399 assaults which caused injuries last year, up 32 per cent from 7,903 in 2015-16. There were a further 20,578 assaults on frontline officers that did not cause injuries. 

Mr Apter said: “I am determined to do all 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 so we can ensure members’ voices are heard. 

During my meeting with 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. 

He said he is “more than willing to engage with the new Government”. However “my job is not to be the friend of those is 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.”