The Home Office has confirmed the officer recruitment targets for every police force in England and Wales for the first year of what’s described as an “unprecedented drive” to increase their ranks by 20,000 over the next three years. Strengthening police numbers is a priority for the Government, which is providing £750 million to support forces to recruit up to 6,000 additional officers by the end of 2020-2021, which is the first stage in this new uplift. That has been enabled by the additional funding announced by the Chancellor in the Spending Review.
Home Secretary Priti Patel set out her vision for policing when she chaired the second meeting of the National Policing Board involving representatives of front line officers and police leaders. Patel said: “The public are clear they want to see more police officers on their streets, whether they live in the city or the countryside. This is the people’s priority and it’s exactly what the Government is delivering. Every single police force in England and Wales will be able to recruit additional officers this year to help keep all of our communities safer.”
All officers recruited as part of the 20,000 uplift will be additional to those hired to fill existing vacancies. They’re also on top of the extra officers already being recruited because of the £1 billion increase in police funding for 2019-2020, which includes money from council tax and for serious violence.
Government funding for recruitment in 2020-2021 will cover all associated costs, including training and kit.
National Policing Board
The National Policing Board, set up by the Prime Minister in July to drive progress in recruitment and other major policing issues, has heard that all forces are already accelerating their recruitment, while the website for the campaign, ‘Be a Force For All’, has been visited more than 215,000 times.
John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “The meeting was constructive and it’s important that we, as the largest police staff association, were at the table to ensure our members were represented. Investment in policing is long overdue and, for the first time, we now have the actual number of officers each local force will increase by in the next year. These figures have been based on the current funding formula models and, while this method isn’t perfect, I accept it’s the only solution available to deliver the numbers quickly in Year One. We now need to ensure that the formula is revisited for future years to ensure a fairer allocation of officers across all forces, but this is certainly a positive start and will provide a much-needed boost to my members and the communities they serve.”
Safer Streets Fund
The recruitment targets announcement follows the establishment of a £25 million Safer Streets Fund. As reported by Risk Xtra, Police and Crime Commissioners can now bid for funding to prevent burglary and theft in crime hotspots through initiatives that could include interventions to improve home security, such as installing better locks and gating alleyways, and making streets better lit at night.
It also follows the Home Office extending a pilot to make it simpler for forces to use Section 60 serious violence Stop and Search powers and announcing a £20 million package of actions cracking down on County Lines drug gangs.
The Home Office has also announced £10 million of funding to increase the number of officers carrying Taser to keep themselves and the public safe and also confirmed plans for a police covenant that will focus on the physical protection of officers, their health and well-being and support for their families.