More than 6,000 police officers hired in first year of recruitment drive

Police forces have hired more than 6,000 officers in the first year of the Government’s recruitment drive to sign up 20,000 by 2023.

The overall provisional headcount of officers in England and Wales is now 135,248, according to Home Office figures to the end of December.

This includes 6,620 hired as part of the 20,000 pledge, a quarterly report on the progress of the scheme said, suggesting the recruitment campaign has exceeded its first-year target of 6,000 by March 2021.

So far, 121,016 applications to become a police officer have been received since the campaign was launched in October 2019.

Data gathered since April indicates 40% of new recruits are women and around 10% – of those who stated their ethnicity – were from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds.

Online assessment centres were set up amid the coronavirus pandemic, in a bid to keep the recruitment drive on track when face-to-face meetings had to stop as buildings shut.

The new recruits are in addition to those filling existing vacancies or joining police forces as a result of other job adverts – taking the total number of new officers who joined the 43 forces in England and Wales between November 2019 and December last year to 14,585.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was “delighted” the first-year target had been exceeded.

Boris Johnson vowed to swell the police service to more than 140,000 officers by mid-2022 as part of his bid to become Prime Minister.

Officer numbers in England and Wales fell by more than 20,000 between 2009 and 2018.