HAMPSHIRE Police officers can expect more colleagues to be joining their ranks despite COVID-19 delaying recruitment.
Hampshire Police Federation says it has had reassurances that the 20,000 officer recruitment drive announced by the Government ahead of last year’s General Election will see more officers on the beat in the county.
Fears remain that the cash drain the virus has had on Government coffers could see police recruitment kicked into the long grass.
However, Hampshire Police Federation Chairman Alex Charge says he has heard from both the Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney and Hampshire PCC Michael Lane that ‘so important’ new recruits will be coming through the doors.
“I had some concerns, more about the money needed [to recruit] than anything else,” he said.
“Obviously, the COVID-19 crisis has cost the Government a lot of money.
“In regards to us in Hampshire, I’ve spoken to Assistant Chief Constable Craig Dibden, and I’ve spoken to the Chief Constable, and the uplift as far as we are concerned is going ahead. I’ve spoken to the Police and Crime Commissioner, that’s what he understands.
“It’s so important for my colleagues, it’s so important for the people of Hampshire that we make sure that we deliver the uplift and we get back some of the numbers we’ve lost since 2010,” Alex added.
Any derailment of the recruitment to help foot the COVID-19 bill would be a ‘monumental’ mistake and leave policing back where it was ten years ago, Alex believes.
“The Government are going to have to find some money from somewhere [to pay for the costs of COVID-19], but it shouldn’t come from the 20,000 officer uplift plan,” he said.
“If it does that’ll be a really, really monumental mistake to make because we are trying to undo 10-15 years of cuts to policing. It would be a dangerous not to fulfil the promises that the Government has made to policing and to the public around more police officers on the streets. It’s that simple.
“I would encourage all politicians not to do it, and I would encourage any member of the public who is concerned to make sure that their elected members know that they want the uplift in policing.”