More than 1,800 police officers hired as part of a Tory manifesto pledge to boost numbers have already quit.
Boris Johnson’s 2019 election manifesto stated that 20,000 new recruits would be signed up by 2023. In total, 15,000 additional officers were hired as part of the £3.6 billion Police Uplift Programme.
However, 1,837 officers who joined under the multi-billion pound scheme have already resigned – about 12 per cent of all new hires, according to information from police forces across England and Wales.
And it is expected the figure may be even higher, as not all of 43 forces across the country provided information on their recruitment.
Ché Donald, vice-chairman of the Police Federation, said new recruits often “don’t have a scooby” and have unrealistic expectations of their roles.
One training supervisor previously remarked that a number of would-be officers were unsuited to the job, saying that some “can’t pass the fitness test, get anxious talking to the public, can’t speak to people on the telephone” and “literally run away from any physical violence”.
Last year Nick Adderley, chief constable of Northamptonshire Police, said that many young people are joining the police “not really knowing what it’s about, realising after just a few weeks and months that it’s not for them”.
Policing no longer seen as a ‘job for life’
Figures acquired by the i newspaper showed that Greater Manchester Police had the highest number of recruits leaving with 206, followed by the West Midlands Police with 173, Thames Valley Police with 160, Surrey Police with 129 and Hampshire Police with 124.
The largest force, the Metropolitan Police, has not provided information on the number of new hires.
Yet while concerns have been raised about some of the new hires, academics have suggested that other factors are pushing new hires to quit.
Dr Sarah Charman, professor of criminology at the University of Portsmouth, told the i newspaper that many young people no longer consider police work a “job for life”.
She said a sample group of police officers she spoke about their employment to were more concerned about issues of morale, childcare and career progression rather than the nature of their work.
She said: “It’s not the job to be honest – only one person I interviewed said they were leaving because of the nature of the job itself.
“Most are quite prepared to go out there and do the dark and dirty work many of us wouldn’t want to do, it’s the organisation itself. If people are quitting like this, something is wrong.”
Dr Charman said that some young recruits were worried “about the pressure of uni work alongside training and a full-time job”, adding: “Some found it rushed, some mentioned the attitude of tutors.
“The ones that came out quite quickly talked about it not being the job that they thought it was going to be. They found it too challenging trying to study and do the job at the same time.
“For a few of them, they were doing training to be a police officer during the dark days of the lockdown and a lot of it moved online, which was difficult.”
The National Audit Office has estimated that the scheme will cost the taxpayer about £18 billion over 10 years.