Police numbers lowest for nine years

Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 00:00

As recruitment cuts bite in England and Wales, the number of police officers younger than 26 has halved since 2009 – from 9,088 then to 4,758 now, according to figures produced by the Home Office in reply to a Freedom of Information request from the BBC.

Recruitment fell to a nine-year low this year, while there are fears that the problem could worsen since police forces throughout Britain are facing demands to cut spending by a fifth.

In Cleveland in northeast England, in north Wales and Staffordshire, the fall in the numbers aged 26 or under was more than 70 per cent in that period, while the total number of all ages employed dropped by 10,000.

Despite the forced retirements of officers with 30 years of service, the number aged over 40 has remained unchanged, raising questions about fitness levels. The Home Office is insisting that all officers will have to pass a mandatory fitness test from next September.

Rejecting fears that police numbers leave communities at risk, home office minister Damian Green said crime had fallen by 10 per cent through better management.

Falling police numbers could see newly elected police commissioners – Conservative and Labour – causing problems for the coalition as they reflect local concerns.