The recruitment of 20,000 new police officers will begin within weeks, confirming the commitment made by the Prime Minister as he entered Downing Street. The drive to deliver more front line officers will start in September with the launch of a national campaign, led by the Home Office.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: 'As I said on the steps of Downing Street this week, my job as Prime Minister is to make our streets safer. People want to see more officers in their neighbourhoods, protecting the public and cutting crime. I promised 20,000 extra officers and that recruitment will now start in earnest.
The Prime Minister has said he wants recruitment completed over the next three years. To support this the Government will shortly set out plans for a new national policing board.
Chaired by the Home Secretary and bringing together key police leaders, it will hold the police to account for meeting this target and drive the national response to the most pressing issues that affect communities right across the country.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: 'Officers up and down the country put themselves in danger every day to keep us safe, they deserve our support.
'The rise we’ve seen in serious violence is deeply worrying. An additional 20,000 officers sends a clear message that we are committed to giving police the resources they need to tackle the scourge of crime.
'This is the start of a new relationship between the government and the police working even more closely together to protect the public.
In addition - as part of ongoing work to tackle serious violence - the Government will urgently review the pilot which makes it simpler for officers to use stop and search powers, with a view to rolling this out across all forces. In April seven forces started a trial with relaxed conditions on the use of Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.
The Prime Minister has been clear he fully supports the police’s use of stop and search to tackle and disrupt those carrying knives.
The drive to recruit more front line officers is welcome but allied to that must be an immediate end to the recently announced imposition of graduate qualifications before anybody can be considered for employment as a police officer.
High standard police work does not require high academic achievement. It requires an abundance of common sense and an ability to use discretion. As well as that, it also needs officers - of all ranks - to be able to relate to the people they serve; the public.
There are of course, other requirements and chief among these is that police officers must be able to carry out their duties without giving way to their emotions. That is extremely difficult to do. Which means that police officers need to be very special people.
Most of those currently serving are indeed very special and their commitment to keeping people safe and pursuing those committing crimes is of the highest order. The new Prime Minister's declaration is welcome but some caution is needed.
There is nothing to be gained by rushing recruitment, training and then releasing on to the streets those who may well wish to be good officers but for one reason or another, may have some difficulty with actually doing the job. Some may indeed better suited to behind-the-scenes work which is just as valuable as those officers pounding the beat.
This is something the Prime Minister and Home Secretary would be well advised to take due note of and in addition to more, well-trained, highly capable officers, give them the tools they need to fight crime; enhanced IT staff and skills to track down internet and identity fraud and to pursue those who peddle child pornography, among other related offences.
More front line officers are needed. Is 20,000 across the UK enough? I'm not convinced. Whether it is 20,000 or more, so is the back-up they themselves will need.
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