Uplift figures should be treated with caution, says Fed chair

South Wales Police has met its target of recruiting new officers under the Government’s Police Uplift Programme, new Home Office figures show.

The Force was told to take on an extra 452 officers when the scheme was launched in 2019 but exceeded that figure by 75 to bring in a total of 527 new recruits.

It now has 3,522 officers compared to 2,995 when the uplift campaign began and 3,056 in 2010 when a decade of cuts to police funding got under way.

Officer numbers had fallen to 2,846 by the start of 2019 as result of the Government’s austerity programme.

South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne welcomed the increase but said the figures should be treated with caution and called on the Government to end its “boom and bust” approach to recruitment.

He said: “We welcome the rise in officer numbers in South Wales but the uplift programme certainly isn’t a magic wand and in reality we are still some way off from where we ought to be.

“Governments must stop their boom and bust approach to recruitment because all it does is destabilise the police service.

“This uplift in such a short time span has created a situation where we now have significant inexperience across the frontline. 

“These new officers are doing their very best but do not have the benefit of having the experience around them as their colleagues might have previously enjoyed in past years. 

“It is simply not fair on them and my admiration goes out to our new officers struggling against the tsunami of demand and the current complexities of policing.

“They are being asked to perform a difficult job without the deep levels of experience around them that is able to guide and nurture their development at  such a critical point in their new careers.”

The latest Home Office figures show that a total of 20,951 extra recruits have joined the service across England and Wales under the Police Uplift Programme and the only Force that failed to meet its target was the Met.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Twitter: “In 2019 we promised to recruit 20,000 additional police officers in England and Wales to make our streets safer and protect communities. Today, I’m pleased to say we have delivered that promise.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman described it as a “historic moment for our country”.

She said: “We should be immensely proud of what we’ve achieved in the last few years.

“Many said we couldn’t do it but this is a police success, a Home Office success and a Conservative government success.”

She denied that policing was the “failure of austerity” and insisted the new recruitment figures were a success.

Asked whether it was fair to say that cuts to the police service in previous years had created problems across policing, she replied: “No. Since 2010, we see that overall crime has fallen. “When you take out fraud and online crime, it’s almost 50 per cent lower than it was in 2010.”

Police Federation national chair Steve Hartshorn said the latest figures did not stand up to scrutiny.

He said: “The reality is, considering population growth of more than four million since 2010, even with an uplift of 20,000 officers, we will have fewer officers on the streets than we had a decade ago.

“Half of all police forces now have fewer officers than they had in 2010 and voluntary resignations have almost doubled.”