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There are now a “record” number of police in Britain according to Home Secretary Suella Braverman, as the Government met its 2019 manifesto pledge to recruit 20,000 officers by March.

Budget cuts during austerity had meant that approximately the same number of jobs had been lost under David Cameron – the first of five successive Tory Prime Ministers. And although there are now roughly 3,500 more bobbies on the street today than in 2010, they are having to work harder than ever.

The latest statistics show 5.4 million crimes were recorded by police in 2022 – the highest number since 2005.

Spread across a headcount of just under 150,000, this works out to 36 crimes per officer during the year. Back in 2010, 144,000 officers had to deal with 4.1 million crimes – a rate of just 29 a head. 

Since the Conservatives took power, overall crime has shot up by 33 percent while officer numbers have increased just six percent. Police forces across England and Wales have been stretched thin, but some far more than others with the issue likely to be front of many minds as people headed to the polls in the local elections last week.

For the Cleveland Constabulary – one of the nine forces that have seen officer numbers fall since 2010 – the rate of crimes per officer has more than doubled from 26 to 55.

That is the highest rate of crimes per officer of any police force in Britain. It was followed by Hampshire (52), South Yorkshire (51) and West Yorkshire (50).

London’s Metropolitan Police Service may have the most crimes to deal with, but it also the largest force in the country by far with some 33,000 officers. It had the third-lowest rate of crimes per officer last year (24), behind Devon and Cornwall Police (22) and City of London Police (7), where the low crime rate may skew the figures.

This result comes despite the Met missing its target to recruit 4,500 new officers – the only force in England and Wales to fail to meet its allocation.

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Announcing the Government’s recruitment success, Ms Braverman said: “We have delivered on the promise we made to the British people which means more police on the beat preventing violence, solving burglaries and cracking down on antisocial behaviour.”

However, the Police Federation of England and Wales, the association representing rank and file officers, said the hiring drive had merely “backfilled the more than 21,000 full-time equivalent officers cut by the Government in 2010.” 

National Chair Steve Hartshorn said population increases and “rising attrition rates” – the number of leavers per new recruit – meant “we would need closer to 50,000 new officers to cover these losses”.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “This is a historic moment for our country as we reach a new peak of around 150,000 police officers in England and Wales, more than ever before. 

“Progress is being made, with crime falling in England and Wales by 50 percent since 2010, excluding fraud and computer misuse. 

“Demand on the police has changed since 2010, and these new officers are changing the face of policing. They are more representative of the communities they serve, and this offers a unique chance to deliver the highest standards and common sense policing expected by the public.”

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