North Yorkshire’s chief constable has warned that the recruitment of new police officers won’t be felt in communities for years to come.
Lisa Winward told a Harrogate Borough Council meeting last night that she wanted to “manage expectations” about the recruitment drive.
She also described figures which suggest an additional 30,000 new officers will be needed in England and Wales on top of the government’s target of 20,000 as “frightening”.
In North Yorkshire, 113 officers have been recruited since 2020 and government funding has been allocated for a further 74.
But because each officer is trained to a degree-level of qualification, Ms Winward said the benefits of the bolstered workforce won’t be felt for “potentially another four years.”
She said: “When these officers join us it takes three years for them to become fully qualified. They’re out on the streets for part of that time, but they spend a predominant amount of time in training.
“In reality, we won’t see the benefits of these individuals coming into the organisation – certainly the final 74 – potentially for another four years.
“We are very much looking forward to and grateful for these officers joining us, but it will take time.”
Reversing cuts to police officer numbers was one of Boris Johnson’s first policy pledges when he became prime minister in 2019.
But those in charge of recruitment have warned that the total number of new recruits needed is much bigger because of existing officers who will be resigning or retiring from the service.
North Yorkshire Police currently has around 1,560 officers and 3,380 total staff.
And Ms Winward said it is expected that around 25% of the workforce will have less than three years of service as outgoing officers are replaced with new recruits over the next few years.
She said this will be “very demanding” on the new officers in terms of them having the “skills, experience and ability to deliver the service to the community.”
Ms Winward explained 55 officers were recruited for training in 2020, followed by 58 in 2021.
She added a further 78 will now be recruited this year, with all officers gaining experience in areas including roads and neighbourhood policing, and crime investigation.
Four of the 78 officers joining this year will work in an organised crime unit covering the Yorkshire and Humber region.
Where the rest will be deployed will depend on the outcome of a force management statement which is due to be published by North Yorkshire Police in May.
This document will look at current and predicted levels of crime in different areas across the county, as well as the current capacity of the force.
Ms Winward added: “This gap analysis will determine where those officers will need to be placed in order to ensure people are safe.
“But that is reliant upon a prevention and early intervention direction of travel.
“We cannot continuously service increasing demand so it’s really important that we prevent harm from happening in the first place.”