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Retention of experienced officers is a priority, Home Office says

Home Office claims the rate of those leaving voluntarily before the normal retirement age is now 2%
Published - 06/05/2020 By - Chris Smith

Warnings that a shortage of long-serving officers could leave new recruits without support have been heeded, officials have claimed.

It followed the announcement that the Uplift recruitment campaign was now halfway to achieving the 6,000 target for the current year despite the COVID-19 crisis.  

Ministers have been under pressure from the Police Superintendents’ Association and the Police Federation to improve pay and conditions for serving officers who have weathered the austerity era. They have warned a significant number will choose retirement over the additional responsibility of mentoring new recruits – who will include many whose training has been curtailed by the lockdown.  

The Home Office said work was under way with the National Police Chiefs’ Council to maximise retention opportunities. Other measures will include developing the National Police Wellbeing Service and putting shape into the Police Covenant to widen support to police families.

The Police Superintendents’ Association has raised concerns about retention of senior officers since autumn last year. It says its members have been pushed to breaking point and 300 more are needed to ensure the new recruits are supported beyond their training.

The pay bid of 5% put in by the PSA and Police Federation – currently under negotiation - will be a critical factor in improving staff morale.

The Home Office points to current retention figures as signs that the exodus of officers may be over. It claims the rate of those leaving voluntarily before the normal retirement age is now 2% (2,175 in 2018/19) and that forces are filling all vacancies.

PSA President Paul Griffiths gave his support to the Uplift numbers and said work was continuing on retention issues for serving officers.

But he added the case had been made for investment: "The necessity for a strong, flexible, well-resourced Police Service has never been more clear."

The Home Office said the resilience of police forces was a top priority after the lockdown and that the new recruits would help take the pressure off of forces as well as adapt to new crime challenges.

A spokesperson said: “The retention of experienced police officers is a priority for the Home Office and only 2% of officers leave voluntarily before reaching retirement age.

“We’re also recruiting at pace to bolster police with an additional 20,000 officers over the next three years. Over 3,000 have already been recruited and will be trained to rise to the policing challenges of the future.”

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