Sussex Police has been boosted by more than 110 new officers since the Government’s recruitment initiative launched last autumn. Over the preceding few years officer numbers in Crawley have remained stable so this increase makes a tangible difference.
Over 4,300 extra officers have joined police forces in England and Wales since the start of the recruitment campaign.
Forces have successfully accelerated recruitment plans to meet their target of 6,000 more officers by March 2021, and the new figures confirm that the Government’s manifesto pledge of 20,000 extra officers by 2023 remains on target.
It is right that the policing system has been given its biggest funding boost for a decade, and police pay is being increased by 2.5 per cent.
This is equivalent to a constable receiving an extra £1,100, and provides officers with an increase above inflation for the second year running.
Support continues to be provided through the National Police Wellbeing Service. This has been funded by Government since its launch in April 2019 and provides support directly to officers and staff.
I am grateful for the commitment of the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, to keep our local area safer by recruiting more police officers.
Since March of last year, the police workforce nationally has increased by 5 per cent; the largest annual increase in officer numbers since 2003-04. We are seeing forces becoming even more diverse and representative of the communities which they serve, with the highest proportion of black, Asian and minority ethnic officers, as well as female officers, joining since records began.
Last year, 60 Members of Parliament joined Katy Bourne and me in support of a Police Covenant. In the weeks following the General Election in December, the Home Office launched a public consultation on the introduction of such a document in England and Wales. The plans look at physical protection, health and wellbeing, as well as support for families and consideration of the Covenant’s scope.
The Government are analysing the responses to the consultation and I look forward to a formal response being published. Implementation of a Police Covenant will offer even greater support for our officers who put themselves in harm’s way on our behalf every day.
In 2018 the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act became law, ensuring that anyone found guilty of assaulting a police officer, firefighter, prison officer or paramedic faced a maximum of 12 months in prison, with judges needing to consider tougher sentences for offences such as GBH or sexual assault if the victim was an emergency worker.
Recently the Ministry of Justice confirmed it is seeking the views of those including emergency services and judiciary representative bodies, on whether the maximum penalty should be doubled to two years in prison.
Henry Smith MP