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Tuesday, 18 December, 2001, 10:48 GMT
UK police numbers leap
police numbers
The government's drive to recruit more police officers appears to be paying off, with the biggest increase in numbers for 20 years.

Police numbers
Police numbers up 2.1% to 127,231
Metropolitan police up 2.8% to 25,374
Largest increase (force) - North Yorkshire (7.5%)
Largest increase (area) - Wales (5.9%)
largest fall - City of London (-2.8%)
5.2% increase in civilian staff
48% increase in recruits at Hendon police college

Source: Home Office

As of September 2001 there were 127,231 police officers in England and Wales, according to latest figures released by the Home Office.

This is the largest number since February 1995.

It represents an increase of 2.1% on last year.

The Conservatives have consistently attacked Labour's record on police recruitment, claiming numbers have fallen significantly since the party came to power in 1997.

Rank and file revolt

Home Secretary David Blunkett is also facing a revolt from rank and file police officers over his controversial police reform White Paper, which includes plans to introduce civilian officers to carry out routine duties and measures to cut back on absenteeism.

But Tuesday's figures mean Mr Blunkett may soon be able to boast record numbers of officers on the beat, putting him on course to meet Labour's commitment of 130,000 officers by Spring 2003.

'More rewarding'

The figures show recruitment rose more than 69% for the year in September.

Increasing the number of bobbies on the beat is a key plank to our police reform agenda

David Blunkett, Home Secretary
There was also a 9.9% rise in the number of ethnic minority officers, increasing the total from 2,828 to 3,107.

The statistics say 14 forces in England and Wales are already boasting record numbers.

Mr Blunkett, who with Prime Minister Tony Blair was shown round a Metropolitan Police training centre on Tuesday, said: "Increasing the number of bobbies on the beat is a key plank to our police reform agenda.

"But tackling crime is about more than just police numbers. It is about providing officers with the tools and support to do the job.

At the present time people are queuing up to come into the Met Police

Sir John Stevens, Metropolitan Police Commissioner
"I am determined to make their job more rewarding by stripping away unnecessary red tape and using trained civilian support staff where appropriate."

Commenting on Tuesday's figures, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens said: "At the present time people are queuing up to come into the Met Police.

"We are still losing numbers to other forces, we have to stem this but a massive number of people want to come in."

Biggest increase

The figures show Wales recorded the largest increase, at 5.9% on the same month last year.

The English region with the largest increase was the south west at 3.6%, while the smallest increase was the south east at 0.2%.

Three forces showed falls in the number of officers year on year:

  • Staffordshire (-1.8%)

  • Thames Valley (-1.1%)

  • City of London (-2.8%)

Two other forces also showed decreases - Surrey and Hertfordshire - but they had been affected by boundary changes.

The largest increase recorded by a single force was North Yorkshire with an extra 97 full-time equivalent officers (up 7.5%).

Metropolitan Police

Figures from the Metropolitan Police training centre at Hendon and National Police Training showed a 48% rise in new recruits beginning residential training in the first seven intakes of 2001-02, compared with the same period last year.

The number of civilian staff also rose by 5.2% or 2,788 in the last year to 56,644.

The largest increase in numbers of police officers was in the Metropolitan Police, which gained 680 officers (2.8%) over the last year, bringing the total to 25,374.

As part of his widespread reform of the police service, Mr Blunkett has also promised performance-related pay and additional cash for officers in particularly demanding roles.

Better training, a national occupational health strategy and improved working conditions have also been promised.

See also:

18 Dec 01 | UK
Q&A: Police numbers
03 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Tories attack on police numbers
11 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Top police recruits to be fast-tracked
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