Hiring New Officers Is No Quick Fix

MORE than 400 new police officers were hired in Hampshire last year, but Hampshire Police Federation warned that it was not a quick fix.

Since the beginning of the Government’s ‘uplift programme’, 412 people have joined Hampshire Constabulary. But even if it hits its target of 20,000 new officers nationally, that will only be slightly above the number of police officers in 2010. Meanwhile the population has grown by four million in that time.

Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoë Wakefield said: “We are recruiting in massive numbers and we have been now for nearly 18 months. But everyone seems to have forgotten that we barely recruited for 10 years and we still lost officers through retirement, resignations and medical retirements.

“So this recruitment isn’t even going to get us back to where we should have been. And we should be much higher than that, because crime has gone up, the levels of violence have gone up, the population has gone up, so we need even more officers than we had back in 2010.”

It also means that the workforce is young and inexperienced, so it’s not the quick fix it seems, Zoë said: “Because they’ve all got to do the degree programme, they are student officers for three years and they have to be given time to do their university work.

“Even though they are a police officer on paper, 20% of the time they are taken away to do their university work. So effectively we’ve got hundreds of part-time officers. It’s really difficult to be able to manage who is doing their university work at what time, to make sure that not everyone on one team is off at the same time, because that leaves the team short.

“And it takes a while to learn this job. Policing is complex. So we have got a lot of inexperienced officers. Most of them are going to be brilliant police officers, but they need time to be able to learn, and it’s taking even longer for them to get up to speed with stuff than it did before, because of this 20% abstraction for their university work.

“In five years’ time it will probably be much better, but our first intake doesn’t complete their three years until September 2023, so we’ve got a long way to go.”


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