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Home Office and wider CJS face significant challenges to realise promises of uplift in police numbers

22 July 2022

In a report today PAC welcomes a Home Office programme “which looks to be on track” to deliver a promised 20,000 uplift in police officer numbers but warns that reaching the final year’s target will be “challenging” - and realising the benefits of more police may be much more so.

The government promised that the additional 20,000 officers would help to cut crime, get criminals off the street and keep people safe – but the Committee says focus to date has been “on getting people through the door” with “the way officers have been assigned to forces out of date by at least 7 years”.   

To reach the programme’s final target the Home Office must recruit an additional 6,500 officers by March 2023, at a time when the labour market is changing and public trust and confidence in policing, particularly London, has been damaged.

There is a “pressing need to reform aspects of police culture and make forces more representative of the communities they serve” but the recent Strategic Review of Policing concluded that the police uplift programme was “having a negligible impact on workforce diversity”.  

Chair's comments

 Dame Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said:  

“If the Home Office does hit its target of 20,000 new police officers by March 2023 the PAC will be delighted to be able to recognise a programme delivered on time, and see government learn lessons for other programmes. 

But it appears this success will only be on the narrowest metric of numbers through the door – the process for assigning which force’s door these recruits go through is years out of date and the exercise does not appear to have progressed the urgent need to make forces more representative of the communities they serve.  

If the promises of this recruitment are met, there will be a substantial increase in the number of criminal prosecutions brought before the courts which PAC recently reported are already facing a record and worsening backlog of cases. The Home Office and the wider criminal justice system do not yet seem to fully understand the extent of this impact and the serious risk it poses to any promised gains, in terms of cutting crime and increasing public safety, from the increased police numbers.” 

Further information

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