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Tuesday, 16 January, 2001, 00:59 GMT
Police recruit numbers on the rise
Police recruits
The extra recruits are being financed out of government funds
A significant increase in the number of new recruits entering police training colleges in England and Wales is due to be announced on Tuesday.

Statistics published by the Home Office will show that in the last nine months the number of recruits has totalled 5,268, a 70% increase on the same period last year.

The extra recruits are being financed out of additional funds promised by the Home Secretary Jack Straw at the Labour Party conference in 1999 and then topped up in the spending review last summer.

Police forces in England and Wales are getting an extra 450m spread over three years, which is enough to take on an additional 9,000 police officers on top of the usual annual recruitment.

Campaign

At the start of January, 5,268 new recruits had entered police training colleges in the previous nine months, compared with 3,030 at the same point last year.

The overall number of police officers in England and Wales - outside London - has already shown an increase for the first time in three years.

But the latest figures also indicate that for the first time in seven years the Metropolitan Police is recruiting more officers than it is losing.

Last August the government launched a 7m advertising campaign to boost police numbers.

It was hailed a great success, prompting 26,000 calls to a special call centre and around 31,000 hits on a website.

Pledge

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

The Home Office source said the new figures will show attempts to increase police numbers have had "very significant effect".

"We are starting to turn the corner - police numbers are rising now after a seven year downturn," he said.

Mr Straw reiterated the government's pledged to boost police recruitment to a record number by 2004 when he announced a new crime crackdown last week.

The Conservatives had used the falling numbers to accused Labour of failing on crime.

Public confidence

The increase in officers also comes at a time when public confidence in the police is said to be falling as more and more officers leave the force.

A report by the Audit Commission published earlier this month found that the vast majority of people are unhappy with the number of officers and level of policing on the streets.

It said that just one in five people are happy with the number of police on the streets and less than half are happy with the level of foot patrols by officers.

But the report did show the number of crimes being solved by officers is increasing - up from 12% to 12.2% per officer.

They are also spending more time out on the streets - up 1% to 53%.

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