The Tory government’s luke-warm commitment to increasing the number of serving police officers saw an increase in 2022 – but many “new” officers were in fact PCSOs and special constables, as erstwhile “hobby bobbies” opted to go full-time.
The government promised to recruit 20,000 additional police officers by March this year – finally replacing the 20,000 officers it axed a decade ago.
Home Office figures show that in the 12 months to March 2022, the number of full-time officers had increased by 4,900 – reaching a total of 140,228.
In charge of the government’s police recruitment drive is none other than Chris Philp, the Conservative MP for Croydon South who was sacked from his previous ministerial position at the Treasury when he showed he wasn’t all that good with numbers…
According to its own report on police numbers in 2021-2022, the Home Office says, “The increase in police officers (which increased by 4,927 FTE compared with the previous year) reflects the drive to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers by March 2023.
“Some of these new recruits may have joined following experience as a special constable or PCSO, which may explain some of the falls in those categories.
“Amongst the paid workforce there were increases in all police officer ranks, the number of police staff (including designated officers) remained stable, and there were decreases in PCSOs compared with the previous year. Amongst the unpaid workforce, the volume of both special constables and PSVs decreased.”
There were 143,769 police serving in England and Wales in 2009.
This had fallen to a modern-day low of 122,405 by 2018. By March 2022, according to the Home Office’s own figures, total police numbers had reached 140,228.
That figure was achieved while there was a 5.8per cent drop in the number of Police Community Support Officers – PCSOs. In London, PCSOs provide an important link between the public and the Met, providing “an increased visible police presence and to work alongside regular police officers in reducing crime and making communities safer,” according to the police.
“Our PCSOs are out on the streets, talking to local people, supporting officers, preventing crime, managing traffic and building the kind of relationships that residents value deeply.”
Answering questions on behalf of the Home Secretary in the Commons before Christmas, Philp told a whopping great porkie: “This government takes tackling crime incredibly seriously. That is why the most recent Government Spending Review allocated £3.5billion over a three-year period to fund the Police Uplift Programme and additional resources for policing.
“This critical investment increased this year’s policing budget by £1.1billion, which will allow the number of uniformed officers on our streets to grow to levels not seen at any point in our country’s history.”
Which is, of course, untrue.
And Philp and the Home Office will have to get a wiggle on to even match 2009’s policing numbers by their deadline of the end of March.
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