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More than 125,000 applications to join police since 2015

Some forces have had up to 35 people go for each available post
Published - 06/12/2017 By - Ian Weinfass - Police Oracle

There have been more than 125,000 applications to join the police service at constable rank in less than three years.

Police Oracle has compiled data from 38 forces across the United Kingdom, showing that there have been more than 8.5 applicants for every available post.

The data covers the period from January 2015 to August 2017, and coincides with many areas lifting long-standing recruitment freezes.

Officer numbers in England and Wales nevertheless fell to 1980s levels in the period.

Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter said: “It doesn’t surprise me that applications have been high. Despite the way we are vilified by the media and some politicians there’s still a real pride which comes with being a police officer.

“The vocational drive of why people want to become police officers has not been lost, you don’t go into policing to become rich, you do it to make a difference.

“My only note of caution is that we should be careful that after the College of Policing’s plans to focus more on academia that we don’t lose that ethos.”

Hampshire had 508 applications, and hired 160 people.

Freedom of Information responses from the constabularies show particularly high interest in the job in Northumbria, Avon and Somerset and Greater Manchester.

Northumbria had almost 35 applications per vacancy in the period, Avon and Somerset had 31 and GMP had 23.

However a direct comparison between forces is not easy as some hold over applications from previous years for future recruitment windows.

Police Oracle’s analysis only included completed applications, not just those requesting more information about becoming a PC.

Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “The figure for applicants implies that people still wish to become police officers; I would however have hoped that more in society would see policing as a career of choice.

"Being a police officer is entering a job like no other – it is truly vocational and to serve society is an honour. 

"However it is no longer surprising that policing is not seen as the attractive option it perhaps once was, with real time decreases to take-home pay, with changes to overall pay, pensions and conditions."

Former Gloucestershire Police chief constable Dr Tim Brain said that it is hard to compare the data to the past because it is not a topic on which figures have been routinely published.

“My gut reaction to the figure is that it is slightly low, and that when morale was higher it would have been more like a ratio of 10:1,” he said.

“Still, having more than eight applicants for every vacancy is a very healthy number. A police career has a lot going for it: it is still as well paid as you get in the public sector and it is a very interesting and exciting job.”

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