In a recent report, it was indicated that the headline grabbing figure of 20,000 police officers to be recruited in England and Wales, may fall short of what is required.
The home office and police officials have said that within the next three years, the figure required may be 53,000, partly due to the number of officers expected to leave the service over that time period.
The report explains that recruitment has been happening ‘at pace’ in many forces, but the number needed to reverse the trend of depleting officer numbers since 2010, could be significantly higher than anticipated.
There are thousands of officers expected to retire over the next few years, and furthermore, retention could be a challenge that results in this new recruitment drive being more difficult than expected.
As police workforce specialists, we understand that there are many layers to police recruitment and retention, not just for police officers, but for the whole police and police staff workforce. The report focuses on police officers; however, it is vital that constabularies also consider the role of police staff, which support and deliver a wide range of operational activities in the criminal justice sector.
In November 2019 we held a focused event looking at the opportunities and challenges faced by constabularies in achieving this new recruitment drive. The event was widely attended from forces across the UK, which uncovered both local and national challenges, including the need for additional police staff resources to successfully deliver this new recruitment drive.
Furthermore, there is the extensive training requirement for recruiting in these quantities, and the report continues that “Current figures show that only one in 10 candidates who applies to join the police is successful - meaning half a million would have to apply to reach the 53,000 goal.”
It’s important for HR and workforce managers in the police sector to consider their entire workforce ambitions, when recruiting any role in such volumes. Could existing police staff be trained and upskilled? What administrative roles are needed to support the recruitment and training of new police officers? How can retention be increased, to ensure recruitment is successful and impactful on increasing the workforce? Could my workforce grow through other channels such as apprenticeships?
There are complex questions and varying scenarios, and the police forces need to understand these, and quickly. A clear workforce development strategy is key to make this a success, considering all aspects of recruitment, training, upskilling and retention.
What are your current workforce challenges? We’d like to hear from police forces who would like to share their experiences around recruitment and retention. Get in touch.