“It’s very long, very tough and very grueling but it is part of the job to make sure you are ready.” The realities of the police recruitment program.
Angelina Lord from Leeds is currently training to become a Police Constable. She has seen first hand the changes in the recruitment process over the last twelve months.
Police forces in England and Wales have lost 21,732 officers between March 2010 and March 2018, a fall of 15%.
However, the government through their national campaign plan of 20,000 new officers is forming a recruitment drive across the country.
This extra pressure put on the national and local forces is leading to changes in the recruitment process to facilitate for the recent losses of officers.
Ms Lord said: “A number of forces are currently partaking in the Police Constable Apprenticeship Scheme which I see as a positive.
“The old saying used to be ‘go away and get some more life experience’ for teenagers applying for the force.
“Now the saying seems to be ‘if you’ve got the right qualifications you’re in’.”
Ms Lord has said whether a change in attitude will lead to a lower quality of policing remains to be seen “I’m unsure how this will impact on the standard we currently have and I wouldn’t like to speculate”.
Uncertainty of proposed national recruitment plan
Crime figures released last July have shown an eleven percent rise in crime across West Yorkshire with a slight decrease in crimes like burglary.
Mark Burns-Williamson Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire said: “Since 2010, West Yorkshire has lost 2,000 officers and staff and more than £140m from its budget,” when asked about the falling numbers.
He added: “Whilst I acknowledge these extra resources, a lot of work needs to be to get to the numbers we were back in 2010.
“We also need clarity as to exactly how the officers are going to be funded.
“Then we can plan properly on top of the officers and staff to be recruited through the Police Council Tax.”
The West Yorkshire Police Force was rated ‘outstanding’ for the way it records crime and that itself should put the confidence in the police force back among the local community following a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
Despite the potential short-term rejuvenation in police confidence Ms Lord added: “A main problem for officers now is the public perception of the police which has become polarised and a result of the falling numbers.
“The danger posed by those that don’t like the police has grown drastically and we have seen, nationally, a rise in officers being significantly injured or even killed while on duty.”
The recruitment process is rigorous, as expected. However, time pressures to recruit the 20,000 new members before 2021 is also threatening the future recruitment process.
“My experience of the process has been both physically and emotionally tiring but with that does come an immense sense of pride despite being in the process for a significant length of time.”
20,000 officer recruitment plan
The proposed plan from Boris Johnson is not wholeheartedly clear across the regions, Burns-Williamson wants clarification “we don’t yet know our share of the national 20,000 over the next three years, and it will take time to restore our numbers to anywhere near where we were in 2010.
“I am concerned that resources have been allocated using a formula that doesn’t take into account crime threat and individual needs of forces as we face significant demands being an area of complex challenge and diversity across the five districts of West Yorkshire.”
The rates of crime in West Yorkshire have been on the rise in recent years, the stretched resources of the police have made it tougher to manage particularly in West Yorkshire.