Wiltshire on track to increase police officer numbers
The Police and Crime Commissioner has joined Wiltshire Police in welcoming the Government's first report on its national campaign to recruit 20,000 extra police officers over the next three years.
Overall, police forces recruited more than 3,000 additional officers in the six months following the launch of the Home Office national recruitment campaign in September last year.
Wiltshire was allocated the funding for an additional 49 police officers in the first year of the national scheme, resulting in six additional officers over the Force's current officer numbers by March 2020. However, over the full three year programme Wiltshire expects to be able to recruit an additional 148 officers as a direct result of the additional Government funding.
The Force was already planning to recruit more police officers before the Government campaign was announced, through increases in the local policing precept paid through the Council Tax, as well as normal planned recruitment to replace officers retiring or leaving the organisation.
Last month, 37 student officers completed their training early so they could be deployed to frontline Community Policing Teams. They will be joined by 20 more in the coming weeks. In June, 40 students will be the first to start the new Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship and Graduate Diploma in Policing, in a new partnership between Wiltshire Police and the University of South Wales.
"Further to a reduction in Police Officer numbers over the last decade, one of our top priorities is to build officer numbers back up, to ensure we are equipped to further reduce crime and keep our communities safe. The additional Government funding is a very welcome boost," said Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills.
"Since the start of the national recruitment drive in September last year, more than 1,000 people have applied to join us and over the next 12 months we aim to recruit 120 new officers.
"Our focus in recent weeks has rightly been to protect the public in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis but behind the scenes, our recruitment and training teams are working hard to ensure we keep pace with our training and recruitment work."
"We have had to adjust our processes a little, using more online learning for student officers in training and we will be introducing an online assessment centre for candidates applying to join us," Mr Mills added.
Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said he was glad to see the new officers enabled through the Council Tax increase complete their training and joining community policing teams and welcomed the additional officers coming in through the extra Government funding.
"It's particularly encouraging to see good progress being made to increase diversity within the workforce. The Positive Action team is doing great work with people from underrepresented groups, including women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds, and as a result more are coming forward to join the police."
"The huge response to our recruitment campaigns shows there are plenty of people, from all walks of life with diverse skills and experiences, who want to become police officers, especially at such a critical time for our country," he added.