Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom says it’s pleasing to see the Force is ahead of schedule in its drive to recruit more officers.
But she says more recruits on their own won’t undo the damage of austerity as he called for a pay rise for officers, as well as investment in training, equipment and infrastructure.
Liz was speaking as new Government statistics show that Cambridgeshire Police has 1,671 officers as of 31 March, up from 1,526 at the start of the Government’s high profile Uplift programme – an increase of 145 officers.
The Force was allocated 124 officers in the first two years of the programme, with a final allocation of 82, for a total of 206 officers by March 2023.
The figures mean that Cambridgeshire Police has already recruited 70 per cent of its target allocation going into the final year of the programme.
Liz said: “This is really encouraging, particularly given the challenges of recruiting during the pandemic, and we welcome all of our new colleagues to Cambridgeshire Police.
“It’s great to see them already supporting our communities and the work of their colleagues and making a difference to policing in the county.
“However, that’s not the end of the story. We need to ensure that while we continue to recruit, we’re getting the best people for the job, we’re maintaining standards, and we’re ensuring that we fill the gaps in knowledge and experience we’ve lost during austerity.”
The new Home Office figures reveal that nationally there were 142,526 police officers in England and Wales as at March 31. That’s an increase of 13,576 towards the target of 20,000 extra officers by March 2023.
Liz said care needs to be taken to ensure the new officers are retained, as well as their experienced colleagues.
“Inflation, increasing interest rates, rising energy prices are hitting our members hard,” she said. “On top of years of real-terms pay cuts, the cost of living crisis is really starting to bite.
“If we’re going to attract the best candidates to policing and improve policing of our communities, then we need the Government to give officers a decent pay increase.”