Police forces are 30,000 officers short of what is needed to keep the public safe, it has been claimed. Poor pay, rising workloads and a ban on striking have seen record numbers quit, leaving a once-proud service in tatters. Home Secretary Suella Braverman is expected to announce this week that 20,000 have signed up after a high-profile recruitment drive.
But the organization representing rank-and-file officers says police strength will still only be what it was in 2010.
And given rapid population growth and an explosion in crime since, forces need 50,000 to join to make any meaningful difference.
Steve Hartshorn, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “No doubt it sounds impressive but when juxtaposed against the massive funding cut levied since 2010, which resulted in over 20,000 fewer officers, the annual loss of around 7,000 officers and population. growth of more than 3.5 million over the last decade, does it really offer hope of being able to provide a better service?”
The 20,000 recruitment target was set by former Home Secretary Priti Patel. But figures obtained by the Express reveal 8,117 officers left English and Welsh forces in the year ending March last year – the highest since comparable records began.
And 1,800 officers recruited under the so-called uplift program have already quit.
Meanwhile, at least nine officers a day are submitting applications to relocate to Western Australia, which is tempting them with £47,000 starting salaries, free housing, fast-tracked Australian citizenship and six weeks’ paid leave. Police in England and Wales typically start on £21,402.
The campaign has rocked those desperately trying to persuade a new generation of recruits to sign up here.
The Police Federation said it was little wonder they could not, as members here struggle to survive on paltry pay and no thanks.
Western Australia police commissioner Col Blanch said: “There’s clearly a significant amount of excitement among UK officers who are keen to make the move.”
The UK Government said there were 140,228 full-time equivalent officers employed across 43 police forces in England and Wales in March last year.
The Home Office said: “We await the final data – however, we remain confident we will have delivered on the Government’s manifesto commitment to recruit 20,000 additional officers.
“Thousands of extra police officers are already out on the beat making our streets safer, and when this program is complete, there will be more police officers in England and Wales than ever before.”
“Moving to Oz was the best decision I’ve made”
Australian police stepped up their aggressive recruitment drive by sending a delegation of top brass to the UK to poach fed-up British cops.
Western Australia Police Force wants to recruit 750 international officers in the next five years.
It’s received more than 1,000 expressions of interest and 866 transfer applications from UK officers alone.
Former Met Police officer Andrew Dueman, 52, moved his family 9,000 miles from London in 2007. He lives in Perth with his wife and five children and said: “The weather is breathtaking.
“Perth has a climate only California can dream of and I live 15 minutes from the beach. It was the best decision I ever made.”
Western Australia’s deputy commissioner Kylie Whiteley told the Daily Express about the state’s ancient rock formations in the north, stunning forests in the south and thriving cities across the state.
She added: “Western Australia is a fantastic place to live and work.” Those keen to move to the largest policing beat in the world are attracted by significantly less violence, particularly knife crime.