Hampshire Police officers are struggling to keep up with their workloads as hundreds of new student officers are employed at the force.
The force is in on track to recruit around 600 new officers by the end of 2023, but the process is causing headaches for the front line, according to Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoë Wakefield.
Around 50 new officers are being recruited every two months, and each student officer needs to take around 20% of their time away from the front line to study.
Zoë said: “We’ve got loads and loads of officers who are still learning and still training. So on paper the numbers look good, but actually in reality it’s still a struggle.
“The protected learning time that the students officers need to have is an issue. Trying to accommodate all of them for that time when they’re absent from work is something that’s no different to other forces. I think everyone’s having that issue.”
Zoë said the protected learning time was vital for new officers, but was causing problems for managers.
She explained: “It’s a really difficult challenge for the sergeants on the front line because they might have a day when they’ve got six officers who have been instructed for their protected learning time, which you’ll see them for the whole shift and they’ve got depleted resources. They’ve got to have that time because they got to pass their degree.”
The Federation is in discussions with the force about how it can better manage learning time.
Zoë added: “Officers have just got to stick it out until September 2023. That is when the first intake will have competed their three years’ training and they will no longer have that protected learning time. But that is still a long way away.”