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Police Recruitment – Success or Failure?

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Last updated on October 31st, 2023 at 07:10 pm

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Any of you who have been reading my posts for a while will know that I’ve taken more than a passing interest in Police Recruitment.

I recently sent FOI requests to all of the Police Forces asking what the wastage rate for recruits with less than 3 years service.

That was quite an interesting experiment. I’ve received responses ranging from really helpful, to confusing, to outright Refusals. I even had one reply that was a Refusal but accompanied by a suggestion as to how I might modify my question in such a way that they could answer it.

And then I got a reply from the Home Office. I didn’t recognise it at first because it was on time, not a Refusal, and written in a way that was easy to understand. They only gave me figures for one year, not the two I asked for, but they gave me the most recent figure , so I can forgive them for that.

According to their reply, a total of 1,176 officers across the 43 Forces of England and Wales Resigned Voluntarily in the 20/21 year.

Fig 1

How many officers Voluntarily Resigned in total during the same period?

Fig 2

By my reckoning the answer is 1,996.

My O Level Maths leads me to believe that, in 2020/21 59% of of the Voluntary Resignations across England and Wales were officers with less than 3 years service.

Please tell me that people aren’t joining the Police, getting a free Degree and leaving again?

In my opinion, and that’s all it is, Police Recruitment and Retention is in crisis. Boris may boast that he’s on target to reach 20,000 extra officers, but we can’t seem to keep hold of them.

I have absolutely no idea what the financial losses are to train over 1,000 recruits only to have them leave.

Good job it’s only a Healthy Churn eh?

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7 thoughts on “Police Recruitment – Success or Failure?”

  1. I think you figure of 59% is perhaps somewhat simplistic.
    Many officers will transfer after two years. Some will die. Some will be medically retired. Some will be dismissed. These figures are not known and may be unknowable, but could possibly be guestimated.
    Lets say take one tenth of each figure (ie 3yrs/30yrs) which I make, rounded, as 162.
    add this to 1996, same calculation , gives 54%
    I still think that this is a very high figure, in that many of the probationer voluntary resignations were probably in fact enforced, but not recorded as such, so as not to blight future prospects in another career.
    Keep winkling for better figures…A.

    1. Those figures are known, they are published and publicly available. The 59% is ONLY Voluntary Resignations and not Deaths, Retirements, Transfers or Dismals, so 59% is correct.

      1. I’m not at all surprised by these figures, sad as it is. Not sure about the free degree thing being a reason for these numbers leaving before 3 years’ service – don’t think that scheme has been in long enough yet to know. Based on my own experience and observation, it’s more likely because the frontline PC job is just too stressful, exhausting, overwhelming, low morale, very cliquey, terrible management, and there are too many bitter people in the job that like seeing newbies fail. People could be encouraged to stay on and see their confidence and ability improve over time, after all it’s a long and slow learning curve, a hard and demanding job at the end of the day. However, the organisation seems to do the opposite of encourage and boost new officers – unless you were born for the job and super confident and successful from the off, the job seems to sap your confidence and willingness to develop and improve, leading to burn out, in some cases unaddressed trauma or depression/anxiety, and wanting to wrap your hand in. That whole culture towards probationers needs to change before retention improves, in my view. Huge generalisation I know, there are obviously many exceptional line managers and officers who want to encourage new officers, but unfortunately too many who don’t and that’s why people are joining up and then becoming disillusioned and wanting out.

        1. Thank you. I think you’re right about the degrees. It will be interesting to see if the picture changed over the next few years.

  2. possible typo in line above table 1. Should it say resigned, not retired voluntarily ?
    I suspect also,that many of the voluntary resignations were probably actually “enforced” to some degree. ie given strong advice..!
    Where did you get 59% from. Perhaps you could publish your calculations, perhaps as a footnote or annex.
    Best Wishes
    Ambrose Killen

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