South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne is calling on the Home Office to provide greater transparency around police recruitment figures.
In particular, he wants to know how many new recruits taken on through the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) programme, which allows applicants to obtain a degree without incurring the expense of three years’ student fees (currently as much as £9,250 per year), are seeing out the course and obtaining the qualification and how long they then stay within the police service.
Steve said: “As a Federation, we are absolutely in favour of recruiting more officers, not only to rebuild our numbers to where they were before austerity but to go further, so we’re fit for today’s challenges. This is something we’ve campaigned for over many years.
“My concern is around how effective these recruitment methods are, both in terms of getting people through the door but also retaining them at the end of it. So, my appeal to the Home Office and those driving the recruitment service is, let’s have a bit more openness and transparency.
“I would like to see the Federation able to play the role of a critical friend in this situation and advise on how issues around retention can be resolved.”
Steve added that South Wales was a pilot scheme for the PCDA, but he is increasingly hearing of the pressures being placed on recruits who are learning a challenging role while also studying for a degree. When rest days are cancelled due to workloads, this means they lose study time.
He added: “We know of student officers who are struggling. Some recruits are literally drowning in their workload. Add into the mix the soaring cost of living and the low starting salary, it’s easy to see how policing could have a real problem in hanging on to those recruits. I think we need to see how many recruits we losing and the cost of that.”
Entry routes into policing include:
Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship: A three-year programme combining operational duties with academic learning. On successful completion of probation, recruits achieve a BSc (Hons) degree in Professional Policing Practice.
Degree-Holder Entry Programme (DHEP): Those with a degree in any subject can apply to do two years’ work-based training supported by off-the-job learning. They get to focus on a specialist area of study from either Investigation, Intelligence, Community, Roads or Response policing.
Traditional entry route: Some forces still allow applicants through the traditional route – following the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP) and a two-year probation period.
Professional Policing Degree: Some applicants can choose to do this degree at university and then apply to join a police force at its conclusion.
Police Now: This alternatively offers two-year national leadership development programmes, specifically designed for graduates.
The latest data shows there were 139,939 officers in the 43 forces of England and Wales as of 31 December 2021. This represents an increase of 11,505 officers and 55 per cent of the Government’s target of 20,000 by March 2023. Of these, 457 officers have been recruited through other funding streams (such as a local council tax precept).