Police service ‘still haemorrhaging officers’

26 January 2017

An officer speaking to a member of the public

The police service is continuing to haemorrhage officers warns the Police Federation, as the latest figures show an alarming drop of nearly 21,500 officers since 2009.

Chair Steve White said: "This is a wake-up call. The number of officers has been consistently dropping every year for the past seven years. Last year recorded the largest drop in three years. The thin blue line is getting even thinner and it’s wreaking havoc on our members."

Mr White was speaking as the Home Office released Police Workforce figures for the year ending 30 September 2016 which showed:

•    total officers across the 43 forces are now down to 122,859
•    more than 2,700 left the service over the 12-month period
•    the picture was even worse for the total workforce including police staff and PCSOs where 6,200 quit

For the first time the report also included data on officer age profiles and showed an ageing workforce where 47% of officers were aged between 41 and 55 years old.

Mr White added: "A large proportion of these officers will be nearing retirement, leaving the service with more gaps to fill. Since 2007 the proportion of officers over 40 has increased from 39% to 48%. Over the same period the number of under 26s has halved from 8% to 4%.

"We value our older officers – they bring a wealth of experience and wisdom to the job but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that having an ageing workforce at times when violent crime is up by 24% including a 9% rise in knife crime and 7% rise in gun crime might just persuade more of these officers to consider leaving the service.

"We’ve continually pointed out that these conditions are exacting an enormous toll on the health and welfare of our officers. A police officer is assaulted every 22 minutes – that’s 64 a day. No wonder they are either leaving in droves or having to take sick and stress leave.

"The stakes have never been so high. At a time when we are having to deal with a heightened state of alert it is vital that we have a properly resourced police service, fit for duty, fit for purpose. What we need is action from the Government to address this, protect our police service and stop more officers from leaving."