Gloucestershire Constabulary has hired dozens of extra officers as part of the Government’s promise to swell police forces’ ranks over the next three years, new figures reveal.
The National Police Chiefs Council says new officers across England and Wales will join other frontline workers helping to fight the coronavirus pandemic and save lives.
The force in Gloucestershire took on 48 recruits in the first six months of the Home Office’s recruitment drive, provisional data from the department shows.
It brings the headcount of officers to 1,209 as of March, and means it has already exceeded its initial target of bringing on board 46 new officers by the same month next year, one of six forces to beat their goal.
The figures form the first update on the Government’s commitment to bolster frontline policing across England and Wales with 20,000 additional officers by March 2023.
They show 3,005 recruits joined up across all 43 forces in the first half-year of the uplift programme, putting them on course to meet the collective goal of 6,000 by March next year.
It is understood many of the new recruits are already out patrolling the streets, either as part of their training or having completed the course.
Boris Johnson pledged to expand the police service to more than 140,000 officers by mid-2022 if he was elected Prime Minister.
But police officer numbers in England and Wales had already fallen by more than 20,000 since 2009, with a reduction from 144,353 to 122,395 in 2018.
Chairman of the National Police Chiefs Council Martin Hewitt said his organisation was working with the Home Office to keep recruitment going despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
He added: “Our new recruits have joined at an extraordinary time for us all, in the midst of an unprecedented public health emergency, where on top of their core duties they are supporting a national effort to help doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers to fight this virus and save lives.
“Their recruitment – and that of future recruits – will enable us to provide an even better service to the public and reduce crime.”
The College of Policing says it is rolling out new online assessment centres, which will take candidates through “situational judgement tests, briefing exercises and interviews”.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Each one of these brave officers will make a difference in helping to cut crime and keep people safe.
“For many, their first role has been to join the fight to stop the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives.”