NEW police officers are on the streets of Wiltshire after the force hit a government recruitment target.
Wiltshire Police met the government’s target to recruit officers as part of the three-year national Police Uplift Programme, aimed at restoring 20,000 staff by March 31.
The government set a target of an additional 164 police officers – over and above normal recruitment to replace officers who leave or retire – with an overall net goal of 1,189 serving police officers by the end of March.
As a result of intensive recruitment over the last three years, the target was exceeded by seven, with 1,196 serving officers at the target date, the force said.
Taking normal recruitment and the additional numbers through the Uplift programme into account, Wiltshire has recruited 459 police officers since the programme began, comprising 412 new starters and officers re-joining, with 47 officers transferring from other forces.
Gender balance has improved and today stands at 733 male (61%) and 463 female (39%)> Ethnic minority police officer numbers have doubled from 20 to 40 since 2019.
Since January, 85 student officers have begun training, including 18 joining this week who swore their oath of allegiance in front of a magistrate at their attestation ceremony.
To maintain overall officer numbers at 1,189, the force is looking to bring in another 160 officers over the next
12 months. Interest in joining the police remains high, with more than 3,200 police officer applicants in Wiltshire in the last five years.
Deputy chief constable Paul Mills welcomed the news of the recruitment target success: “This is a much-needed boost for Wiltshire,” he said. “These additional officers will play a key role in delivering the more visible police service that the public want to see from their community policing teams.
“It has been a massive team effort and I am grateful to everyone who has helped us achieve that goal, and to every individual who has stepped forward to dedicate themselves to a career in public service.
“To maintain officer numbers we need more people who may not have thought about a career in policing before to contact us to discuss the opportunities. Policing is a fantastically diverse career; you can really make a positive difference to your local community.
“All new recruits receive a first-class, fully funded training package leading to a degree level qualification, plus great opportunities to specialise in roles such as CID, roads policing and firearms.”
Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson welcomed the news: “Visible, proactive, policing makes people feel safer and Wiltshire’s residents have told me they want more police officers in frontline community roles,” he said.
“Wiltshire now has its highest number of police officers since 2010 and we are starting to see those vital community-based police officers being achieved through key investment from the police precept and the Uplift programme.
“Once fully trained, these extra officers will enable Wiltshire Police to provide more stability in its neighbourhood teams and this, alongside a newly introduced command structure so local inspectors can target resources to deal with any community issues as they arise, will deliver the tangible change asked for by communities.
“Both the chief constable and I remain committed to delivering a quality policing service, which meets the needs of its communities, tackles the crimes which matter and is able to deliver justice and provide support for people when they are at their most vulnerable.”
Anyone interested in joining the force from September 2023 can register their interest at www.wiltshire.police.uk/careers.