Rishi Sunak today hailed the recruitment of 20,000 extra police officers in England and Wales as the Tories hit an election manifesto commitment.
Home Office figures showed 20,951 additional police officers have been hired since the Government’s 2019 pledge.
The announcement comes ahead of next week’s local elections, with the Conservatives and Labour having traded blows over law and order issues in the run-up to polling day.
The Tories will hope hitting their police recruitment target will provide a boost ahead of a set of elections in which it is feared they could lose more than 1,000 seats in councils across England.
The Prime Minister said: ‘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.’
Latest statistics revealed more than 20,000 extra police officers have been recruited in England and Wales since 2019
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak used his Twitter account to hail the hitting of a Conservative manifesto commitment
Home Office figures showed 20,951 additional police officers have been hired since the Government’s 2019 pledge
The provisional data showed there is now just under 150,000 police officers across England and Wales
In July 2019, Boris Johnson promised to put another 20,000 police on the streets in his first speech as PM.
A national campaign to recruit extra officers was begun in September 2019 and, ahead of the snap general election in December that year, the Tories made the commitment one of their key manifesto pledges.
A target of March 2023 was set for reaching the 20,000 mark, which has now been reached according to the latest Home Office figures published this morning.
The provisional data showed 20,951 additional officers have been recruited from funding for the Police Uplift Programme, meaning there is now just under 150,000 police officers across England and Wales.
Of the 43 territorial police forces in England and Wales, 42 have met or exceeded their target for new officers.
The one exception was the Metropolitan Police, which has missed its target by more than 1,000.
Scotland Yard had a target of 4,557 new officers but had provisionally recruited only 3,468 by March 2023.
Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said: ‘We are 1,000 officers light of our target. I wish we’d hit it, but we we haven’t.’
Speaking to MPs on the House of Commons’ Home Affairs Committee, Sir Mark admitted the recent series of scandals to hit Scotland Yard was affecting recruitment.
‘The reputation of the organisation at the moment doesn’t help recruiting, but also the employment market and the pay situation is really challenging,’ he added.
‘The employment market in London, as you all know, is very, very hot and very difficult, and frontline officer pay points have gone down 17 per cent in real terms in a decade, so we’re paying people less, new recruits less, in the hottest part of the employment market in the country.
‘So, I think that’s a factor as well.’
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley admitted the recent series of scandals to hit Scotland Yard was affecting recruitment
In recent weeks, ahead of the local elections, Labour have attempted to take on the Tories over law and order issues – including with a controversial ad campaign.
One of the ads claimed Mr Sunak ‘doesn’t believe’ adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison, as Labour attempted to highlight the Tories’ record on jailing offenders.
But the campaign risked backfiring on Sir Keir Starmer amid renewed scrutiny of the Labour leader’s time as head of the Crown Prosecution Service between 2008 and 2013.
It emerged how, in his past role as Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Keir helped decide the current sentencing guidelines for child sex abusers, which were adopted in 2012.
He sat on the Sentencing Council when it was agreed the crime should not get an automatic prison sentence, although a maximum of 14 years in jail was set.
In a bad-tempered clash in the House of Commons last week, Mr Sunak branded the Labour leader ‘Sir Softy’ as they exchanged barbs over law and order matters.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman this morning dismissed frequent criticism that the Government’s recruitment of 20,000 extra officers would merely return police numbers to the level they were before austerity cuts began under the Tories in 2010.
Ahead of the Home Office figures being published, she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘If we meet our target, and we’re confident that we are going to, we will have surpassed any number that was on the books even prior to 2010.
‘So that represents a record number, higher than the Labour years, higher than previous administrations.
‘So looking at what has happened in the last 10 years is somewhat of an irrelevance.’
The Government only reached its target of 20,000 new police officers in England and Wales in recent weeks, the Home Office figures showed.
The total number of new officers provisionally stood at 18,544 at the end of February, nearly 1,500 short of the target.
The sharp jump in headcount in the weeks leading up to the March 31 deadline represented the ‘largest month-on-month increase’ since the recruitment programme began, the Home Office said.
‘The majority of the increase over the latest quarter was seen in the month of March,’ it added.
The Liberal Democrats said Government boasts about reaching the 20,000 target would ‘ring hollow’ for Britons who have seen community policing ‘decimated’.
The party pointed to its new research which showed police are taking an average of five hours to respond to priority calls such as burglaries, with some forces taking up to 18 hours.
Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael said: ‘Suella Braverman’s boasts will ring hollow for communities that have seen community policing decimated under this Government.
‘Crime victims are waiting hours for police to turn up while the vast majority of burglaries go unsolved.’
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