More than 1,800 police officers hired as part of Boris Johnson’s pledge to recruit 20,000 more police officers by 2023 have already quit, according to figures.
The true number is thought to be much higher, amid warnings about recruits leaving the police for pay, conditions and a “mismatch” between their expectations and the realities of the job.
In his first speech as prime minister in July 2019, Johnson promised he would put “20,000 more police on the streets” by the end of March.
The Home Office says it is on track to meet the target, with more than 15,000 more officers recruited by October.
But there are concerns it will not be met, with official figures showing an average of 776 officers a month will need to be recruited in England and Wales to meet the target. The average between April and September was 406 per month.
Record resignations also mean that more and more empty seats need to be filled to get the raise.
Data obtained in freedom of information requests by the newspaper i show that at least 1,837 of those officers who joined under the rise have already resigned voluntarily.
The true number is likely to be significantly higher, as 19 of the 43 forces in England and Wales did not provide figures.
Among them was the Metropolitan Police which is the largest force in the UK and was tasked with recruiting the largest number of officers.
In October, Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said it may not be “possible or wise” to hit his target, as Scotland Yard needed to ensure the quality of recruits and make sure they were “bringing in the right people” following a series of scandals and the murder of Sarah Everard.
The Home Office said rates of voluntary resignations were lower for police officers than in other sectors and that a survey of new recruits found 81 per cent intended to continue as police officers for the rest of their life. work life.
A spokesperson added: “The Police Strengthening Program is on track, with 15,343 additional officers already recruited, ensuring the police have the support and training they need to fight crime.”
A watchdog earlier warned that the lift created a “greater danger that people unsuitable for policing could outrun” due to the speed of recruitment required.
Up to a third of all police officers in England and Wales will be rookie constables still in their probationary period if all 20,000 are recruited by the end of March.
As the government promised that new officers would be “additional” to existing numbers, more than 50,000 had to be recruited over three years to cover those leaving.
A Police Federation conference in May said the police force was under “enormous pressure to continue striking targets”, but increasing numbers of officers were quitting voluntarily.
Chief Superintendent Sarah Davenport, change manager for the lift program, said officials had “anticipated that about 10 percent of new recruits would leave” and were working on retention efforts.
Dr Sarah Charman, a criminology professor at Portsmouth University who has interviewed departing officers, said many felt “disappointed in various ways”.
“First there are organizational issues that are leading them to step down, around poor leadership, excessive workloads and a mismatch between what they expected the job to be and the reality,” he said.
“We are also seeing personal reasons affecting mental and physical health, care responsibilities and stress.”
At the same conference, several officers told former Home Secretary Priti Patel that they were struggling to make a living on their wages and were considering leaving the police force for better-paying jobs in other sectors.
The government announced earlier this month an increase in annual funding of “up to £523m” for local forces in England and Wales, but the figure is based on council tax increases that would generate £349m.
Individual Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) will have to decide whether to implement the hike, balancing the cost-of-living crisis with growing demand for police who say they have become the “service of first and last resort” for public services in difficulty.
The Police Federation, which represents 130,000 rank-and-file officers, called the funding announcement “smoke and mirrors” and that even with the full increase, inflation meant the police were facing a pay cut in real terms.
Police officers in the UK are legally barred from striking and say they have ‘picked up the pieces’ from industrial action from sectors including nurses, ambulances and railway workers.
A significant portion of police demand is now being taken up by mental health incidents and medical emergencies, seeing armed officers deployed for cardiac arrests even before ambulance attacks.
Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Council of Police Chiefs, told a conference in November that there were even fewer police officers and staff than before the drastic cuts began in 2010.
“We all know that the country is facing serious economic challenges and the government has extremely difficult decisions to make on public spending,” he added.
“If the increase in police officers is not maintained, the benefits of the growth from 2019 will be lost. More pressure on other public services means more pressure on the grassroots policing mission.”
Speaking at the same conference, Suella Braverman hailed the lift and distanced herself from previous police cuts.
Asked whether it was a government error to cause huge losses of senior officers over the past decade, he said: ‘I am not going to criticize the Conservative administration’s previous decisions. I wasn’t in government at the time.”