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Falklands hero Simon Weston
"How do you do that? I'm not sure I could"
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Wednesday, 27 December, 2000, 14:11 GMT
Police adverts a success

Police adverts are helping quell falling police numbers
A 7m advertising campaign to boost police numbers has been hailed a success.

There have been nearly 15,000 responses to the recruitment drive from interested applicants, according to Home Office figures just released.

The number of new police trainees entering colleges has also risen.

People say I'm brave, but going round to someone's house, people I've never met before, to tell a man that his wife and child have been killed in a car crash ... I'm not sure I could do that

Falklands hero Simon Weston

Since the three-year national Could You? campaign was launched in August it has already prompted 57,000 responses.

Home Office Minister Mike O'Brien welcomed the findings.

"For the first time in years the number of officers recruited into the service has exceeded those leaving it.

"Other indications that we are starting to turn the corner on improving police numbers include falling sickness levels" he said.

But he added that this was just the beginning of the campaign.

"It will take time for forces to recruit and train officers."

There have been 26,000 calls to a special call centre and around 31,000 hits on a website.

Of these, there were 14,883 "serious" expressions of interest in joining the police which were passed on to local forces.

These are now in the very earliest stages of the recruitment process.

Home Office research also showed that the advertising had a positive impact on perceptions of the police.

Recruitment crisis

The latest Home Office findings come a day after Metropolitan police commissioner Sir John Stevens warned pressure on resources was leading to police on the beat being transferred to answer emergency calls and carry out administrative tasks.

He said 200 officers had been transferred off the streets - and that, by February, the Met would be short of 1,000 civilians and 2,500 uniformed officers on six years ago.

The latest Home Office figures however show the largest concentration of interest was in the Met police area, with 1,127 interested applicants.

Numbers of trainee officers going through college to join the Met are also up, with 132 officers entering at the last count in November.

Falklands hero Simon Weston
Simon Weston asks if you could face the tough challenges

Overall, numbers of trainees entering college are up 41% this year.

The second wave of the three-year campaign launches on Wednesday night with a 60-second advert starring Joan Bakewell.

One of the adverts has already featured Falklands hero Simon Weston, who was badly burned when the Argentinean Air Force bombed his landing ship.

He says: "People say I'm brave but going round to someone's house, people I've never met before, to tell a man that his wife and child have been killed in a car crash ... I'm not sure I could do that."

Former EastEnders star Patsy Palmer has also featured in the ads, which has asked the question: Could you rise to these challenges?

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