The Police Uplift Programme – March 2021 Update

Last updated on July 20th, 2023 at 03:21 pm

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I may have been a little critical of late, of Boris’s boast to enlist 20,000 extra Police Officers over a 3 year period. I have certainly noticed that the mantra has changed from ‘extra officers’ to ‘new officers‘. have I been totally unreasonable? I may be critical, but I do try to be fair

Boris recently retweeted this from the Conservatives in the run up to Thursday’s elections

One thing is certain, the Home Office have made it very complicated for us non-Academics to keep up and understand what is going on. My understanding of the process (and it is simply that, I might be wrong) is that each Force in England is required to recruit traditionally to maintain their workforce total as at 31st March 2019. Police Uplift recruitment is then added to that, and any extra recruitment paid for by Policing Precept increases is also shown seperately. Still with me?

“While the announcement to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers in England and Wales was made in September 2019, the methodology explained why the police workforce statistics as at 30 September 2019 (published 30 January 2020) have not been used as the baseline.
The methodology explains that prior to the announcement, and following planned local council tax precept increases, most forces already had plans to adjust their officer numbers in the 2019/20 financial year. There were also some forces who planned workforce reductions. Therefore, the police workforce statistics as at 30 September 2019 would not capture all adjustments, and some pre-planned recruitment (such as Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) announced precept recruitment) may already have been reflected in those figures.
Therefore it was proposed to take the headcount figures from the Police Workforce figures as at 31 March 2019 and make adjustments to allow for planned increases and reductions within the 2019/20 financial year to derive a baseline. This methodology ensures that any previously planned adjustments are accounted for when calculating officer uplift. Furthermore, police forces are required to backfill any leavers throughout the duration of the campaign in order for the recruitment goals to be met.”

Police officer uplift,
England and Wales, quarterly update to 30 September 2020

Taking this explanation as ‘gospel’ I make the baseline figure (31 March 2019) for the whole of England and Wales as 128,591

Local recruitment is to be used to maintain this figure.

On 5 September 2019 thePrime Minister announced the Government commitment to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers in England and Wales by 31 March 2023.Details of the first phase to recruit up to 6,000 additional officers by the end of March 2021, allocation decisions for 2021/22 and 2022/23 have yet to be announced

So, how have we done?

Police Uplift Programme
Fig 1

As previously explained, although the Police Uplift Programme was not announced until September 2019, the baseline figure was set at the March 2019 level. Baseline figure at 31st March 2019 was 128,591

I’ll be generous here, for the remainder of 2019, the very beginning of the scheme, targets were not being met, that is totally understandable. From the beginning of 2020 it does appear as though the scheme was beginning to have an effect.

As Boris proudly boasts, by 31st March 2021 a total of 8,771 ‘extra’ Police Officers had been recruited via the Police Uplift Programme. The Home Office love a good numerical target. Target for October 2019 to March 2021 was 6,000, so 8,771 was a great result. Credit where credit is due, I didn’t think they would achieve it.

Another eternal confusion is that the Police Uplift Programme like to use ‘Headcount’ stats and the official Home Office Police Workforce figures use Full Time Equivalent stats, a different way of counting the same people. However the ‘Headcount’ figure for 30th October 2019 was 127,590, and the ‘Headcount’ figure for 31st March 2021 was 137,704, a total of 9,754 more officers, so it probably isn’t unreasonable for Boris and the Home Office to claim a success (so far) for the Police Uplift Programme. However, less than 1,000 officers across the whole of England and Wales were seemingly recruited outside of the Police Uplift Programme.


In the year 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2019, before the Police Uplift Programme was announced and commenced, a total of 7,974 officers (not including tranfers) joined the Police Service of England and Wales. By the end of September 2019, just before the inception of the Police Uplift Programme, a further 1,613 officers joined the Service.

This means that in the 18 months prior to the Police Uplift Programme going live a total of 9,587 new officers joined the Service. In the 18 months since it went live, a total of 9,754 officers joined, 8,771 of those claimed by the Police Uplift Programme.

Something is clearly going wrong. Confusing counting methods (no change there then), spin, even untruths maybe.

My interpretation, and it is only that, for what it’s worth, is that some Police Forces (none in Wales, Yorkshire or North West) have supplemented their establishments by raising the Policing Precepts to pay for extra recruiting. Those numbers represent the, approx, 1,000 new officers outside of the Police Uplift Programme. In other words the Police Uplift Programme are currently funding, and taking the credit for, the basic recruitment quotas that could have been expected if Boris had said nothing.

Once budgetary restrictions had been eased and recruitment opened again, these are the sort of numbers that were being experienced prior to October 2019. Even as far back as March 2015 the Police Service was managing to recruit just over 5,600 new recruits annually, not counting transfers.

Mid Term Report

More Smoke and Mirrors from Central Government, MUST TRY HARDER.

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