Force recruits almost 100 new officers

South Wales Police recruited 95 new officers in the 12 months to March 2022, according to the latest figures from the Home Office.

The newly-released data shows the Force had 3,269 officers on 31 March this year compared with 3,174 on the same date the year before.

The 3.8 per cent increase is slightly lower than the national figure of 4 per cent which equates to 4,927 extra officers and brings the total number of serving officers across England and Wales to 140,228.

Home Office officials said the latest figures revealed the second highest number of recruits in a year since records began, just behind the year ending March 2020 when there were 12,883 new officers.

The recruitment drive is part of the  Government’s Police Uplift Programme which aims to bring in 20,000 new officers by next March.

South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne welcomed the increase in numbers but warned measures needed to put in place to ensure officer retention.

He said: “The recruitment and retention of new officers has been a cause for concern for some time so we are pleased to see the numbers heading in the right direction.

“Years of cutbacks have left policing near crisis point and we have to remember that, while very welcome, the Police Uplift Programme will still leave the people of South Wales with fewer officers than they had a decade ago.

“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.”

Steve added: “I have a number of concerns one being is how effective these recruitment methods are in terms of getting people through the door. The second is retaining them throughout their probationary period. There are significant concerns concerning the demand being placed on our student officers throughout their PEQF journey. It is estimated that the student needs to invest 40 per cent of their RDs into self-study to be able to complete the programme and this cannot be right.

“Coupled with the low starting pay which leads officers into having to work over-time to pay their bills, we also have the issue of Force demand and cancelled rest days on top. As a result students are invariably undertaking their academic work on their annual leave periods and therefore they are having no time to decompress from the stressful role that policing brings. Our students are now getting burnt out before they even finish their probationary period and therefore retaining their services will become a challenge. 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.

“We all want to serve the public with a modern, efficient and proactive police force and we can only achieve that with ambitious levels of resourcing and I think there is still a long way to go before that happens.”