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The BBC's Jon Silverman
"Recruiting potential police officers is one thing but retaining them is much harder"
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Alan Gordon, Hampshire Police Federation
"We have to re-educate the public as to what policing is all about"
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Wednesday, 30 August, 2000, 05:34 GMT 06:34 UK
Police launch recruitment drive
police officers
Police numbers have been falling since the mid-1990s
A multi-million pound campaign designed to attract 9,000 new police officers in England and Wales over the next three years is being launched by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw.

The 7m recruitment drive will aim to cut the fall in police numbers with a series of TV adverts based on the Army's dramatic "What are you thinking?" campaign.

The total number of officers has continued to fall since a peak in the mid-90s.

And even with 9,000 new recruits, Home Office officials concede that the number of officers leaving the force could mean there will be fewer on the beat in three years' time.

Police factfile
The Home Office is considering foreign recruits to ease the numbers crisis.
Only UK, Republic of Ireland and Commonwealth citizens can currently join.
Jack Straw is considering the new legislation which would be needed.
Forces must employ 8,000 more ethnic minority officers by 2009.
5,391 officers joined in 1998-9 but 6,104 left.

The campaign, aimed at men and women in their 20s and early 30s, will consist of a series of advertisements on radio, television, cinema and in newspapers, and will feature a number of high-profile personalities.

Devised by advertising company M and C Saatchi, the campaign will emphasise the challenging nature of police work.

The 9,000 new officers will be in addition to those already budgeted for by individual forces.

"The campaign is designed to be self-selecting, it asks people if they are the right person for the job," a Home Office spokeswoman said.

"We also want it to raise the status of the police, we want people to see it as a good career choice, progressive, hi-tech and rewarding."

'Innovative campaign'

"This is a very innovative campaign," said David Palmer, deputy secretary of the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales.

"The government's plans to fund additional police numbers over the next three years will only be successful if the service is able to attract good quality recruits.

"Having had a preview I am sure it will project the service as a worthwhile and rewarding career to all sections of the community."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes MP also welcomed the recruitment campaign.

He said: "We need to recruit many more full-time, part-time and special police officers.

"Extra money from Labour for more police officers is better three-and-a-half years late than never."

The MP added that the government should also look at introducing financial incentives to attract new people.

Recruitment targets

In the past, forces have had to organise regional recruitment campaigns rather than benefit from a national drive.

The new campaign will not specifically seek to attract ethnic minority or women applicants.

But forces will have to demonstrate progress against recruitment targets for these groups, as well as efficiency, in order to get cash for new officers in the second and third years of the campaign.

The Home Office has warned that by the time of the next general election, there could be 2,600 fewer officers than when Labour took power in 1997.

This would represent a fall from 127,158 to 124,500.

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