20,000 new police officers

The new Prime Minister - Boris Johnson - has promised that the recruitment the new police officers will begin within weeks and is expected to be complete by 2022. The cost is expected to be £500m in the first year alone and £1.1bn overall.

As a result of government austerity measures more than 20,000 officers were lost in the decade since 2009 so while the pledge has been broadly welcomed it will not restore figures to their pre-(2008) recession levels.

A recruitment campaign will begin in September, with forces held to account for meeting the target by a new board, bringing together police leaders and led by the new Home Secretary Priti Patel.

But some police forces have expressed concerns that they don't have enough training instructors or police stations to support a rapid expansion after ten years of divesting themselves of staff and estate assets.

BCRP comment

The savage reduction in the numbers of police officers over the past ten years has, unsurprisingly, had a marked effect on crime and public safety. There are simply some things that the police no longer have the resources to do and some crimes that they simply cannot prioritise. And as a consequence the conviction rate has slumped to an all-time low of less than 8% [see earlier story].

Assuming that the pledge comes with the appropriate funding, restoring police numbers will not be straightforward and may take longer than the three years allocated to it. The minister in charge of policing has even cited access to locker space as one of many logistical challenges to be addressed.

And even if the numbers are restored to [still] less than their previous levels, 20,000 rookies will struggle to make up for the thousands of experienced officers that have disappeared over the past decade taking their knowledge and expertise with them. Given the tacit admission that the reduction in numbers has clearly gone too far, you wonder why it was ever allowed to happen in the first place.