Extra 20,000 officers ‘not the sole answer’ to meet rising demand: police chief

The police chief leading the recruitment of 20,000 more officers has warned it will not plug the widening gap between resources and the surge in demand on UK forces.

Chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Martin Hewitt said officers are increasingly having to cover gaps in social and health care, as well as facing rising demand from digital crimes such as fraud and sexual exploitation.

Police officer recruitment drive launched
Prime Minister Boris Johnson launching his police recruitment drive (Danny Lawson/PA)

He told the PA news agency: “The 20,000 is a great opportunity and that will help, but its not the answer on its own.

“One of the demand issues that has transformed over the last few years is the amount of time that we are stepping in to spaces that would have been done by other organisations, particularly social care and health.

“The 20,000 will help but it is not the sole answer. We now have to deal with these really challenging online threats where our role is very different and we’re in a very different space, but we still have to deal with the crime we’ve always had to deal with.

“We’ve had this ever increasing rise in demand, and not only is it volume demand but it’s also increased in its complexity.”

Plans are under way to recruit 20,000 extra police officers nationally over the next three-and-a-half years, to bring the service back up to 2010 staffing levels.

So far around £800 million has been pledged to allow around 6,000 officers to be recruited by spring 2021.

On Monday, chairman of the Police Superintendents’ Association (PSA) Paul Griffiths called on Home Secretary Priti Patel to recruit another 300 superintendents as part of the drive.

Mr Hewitt is due to speak at the PSA annual conference on Tuesday.

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