£9m police recruitment campaign launched

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Police recruitment has fallen by 16 per cent in the past year, the Home Office announced yesterday. The new figures mean that annual recruitment has fallen by more than 30 per cent since Labour came to power.

Police recruitment has fallen by 16 per cent in the past year, the Home Office announced yesterday. The new figures mean that annual recruitment has fallen by more than 30 per cent since Labour came to power.

The Home Office released the figures as it launched the first national advertising campaign for police recruits. Only 4,535 officers joined the 43 forces of England and Wales in the year to 31 March, while 5,948 officers left the service. In the year to 31 March 1998, 6,500 officers were taken on. Total police strength in England and Wales fell to 124,418 in the 12 months to 31 March, nearly 3,000 less than at the time of the last election and almost 4,000 down on the peak figure of 128,290 in March 1993.

The news is an embarrassment to Labour after a succession of pledges to drive up police numbers. It also cast a cloud over the launch of the £7m advertising campaign by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, aimed at attracting 9,000 recruits.

The shadow Home Secretary, Ann Widdecombe, said: "There is no denying that the thin blue line has got thinner under Labour. [The] figures show that Britain now has the lowest number of serving police constables for 10 years. Police recruitment has fallen every year under Labour."

A Home Office spokesperson attributed the fall in recruitment to a combination of factors including pay and the public image of the police.

At the launch of the advertising campaign, Mr Straw admitted that the exercise was partly designed to restore flagging public confidence in the police.

He said: "I hope that the campaign will have a wider purpose, beyond encouraging potential recruits to come forward, in demonstrating the unique professionalism and qualities of the police we have in this country. The campaign will also help to enhance the reputation of the police service as a whole."

The campaign is intended to counter the "cops and robbers" imagery of popular culture by stressing the qualities of the community policeman to attract better quality recruits.

Comments