GMP to recruit an extra 350 officers
Greater Manchester Police will get nearly 350 extra officers in the first year of a national recruitment drive – but there are fears the force’s ranks could be left ‘inundated’ with ‘inexperienced staff’.
“I can’t have a frontline that’s wholly made up of student officers,” Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced recruitment targets for all forces in the country.
In the first wave of the scheme, £750m will go towards taking on 6,000 officers nationally by the end of 2020/21.
The aim is to recruit 20,000 across the UK over the next three years.
Greater Manchester’s allocation is the highest across the north west – at 347.
There were around 8,200 officers on the force in 2010, but numbers have dwindled to just 6,200 due to austerity cuts.
Mr Hopkins has already warned senior figures in the region that the recruitment exercise would be ‘very challenging’.
Some districts are already dominated by new recruits, with inexperienced officers accounting for more than half of frontline personel.
Mr Hopkins said the recruitment drive was a ‘real opportunity’, but ‘significant investment’ would be required to support a larger workforce.
“We are also still some way off replacing the 2,000 experienced officers we have had to lose over the years and it will take time to build that experience again with this new influx of officers,” Mr Hopkins said.
“It will be a challenge for us, but one I welcome and look forward to progressing forwards with.”
The force has already committed to taking on 320 new officers this year, having raised £18m after increasing the policing precept element of council tax bills by an average of £24 per household.
To reach the agreed uplift, up to 712 new officers will be needed. And officers expected to leave the force will have to be replaced.
Speaking to the region’s police and crime panel last month, Mr Hopkins said: “The 20,000 uplift is going be really, really hard because if we’re not careful, we’re going to inundate districts with really inexperienced staff.
“I think there’s going to have to be a real workforce planning exercise to say how we manage people that are going into specialist roles, whether its detectives or traffic.
“I can’t have a frontline that’s wholly made up of student officers.”
A total of 189 officers have joined the force so far this year, with a further 100 new recruits expected in October.
A third of the May intake were women, with a further 36pc recruited in July.
Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates accounted for a quarter of May’s intake, and 10pc of July’s recruitment.
Mr Hopkins said: “We’re inundated with really good people wanting to join us.
“It’s hard in that we are being particularly focused on trying to attract more women and colleagues from BAME backgrounds.
“Whilst we’re having some real success with that, we’re having to work relentlessly with communities to make sure we’re achieving that.”
New routes into the force have also caused recruitment headaches, namely the detective training programme, where each post had 60 applicants.
The panel also heard that on average, between 400 and 500 officers have to be replaced each year.
But Mr Hopkins revealed that the rate of retiring officers has dropped off for the first time since austerity cuts began in 2010.
This means the recruitment target for 2019/20 dropped from 803 to 721.
Mr Hopkins said: “I think that’s quite encouraging because we’re retaining skills because of all the recruitment we’re doing.
“The frontline, depending on where you are in Greater Manchester, varies between about 45 and 60pc student officer, and that’s really hard.”