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Slump in jobseeker interest for police could put dampener on 20,000 officer recruitment drive, research reveals


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Lancashire force sees 29 per cent decline in searches for employment in the last two years.

On the slide: Jobseeker interest over the years

On the slide: Jobseeker interest over the years

Date - 7th August 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
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Boris Johnson's plans to put an extra 20,000 officers on the nation's streets could prove more difficult than expected as jobseeker interest in policing has slumped by a quarter since December, new research reveals.

The new Prime Minister’s plans to restore police numbers to their 2010 levels but, in an already tight labour market, finding willing recruits looks set to be a challenge – with people searching for employment in forces across the UK down by almost a fifth since 2017.

As the new Johnson-led government indicates plans to ramp up recruitment by 16 per cent on the current complement of 123,171 officers in England and Wales, interest in working for the service has declined sharply according to new analysis by the world’s largest job site, Indeed.

Mr Johnson said he wanted the recruitment – which will be overseen by a new National Policing Board – to start immediately and be completed by 2022.

But the research by Indeed indicated that a lack of willing recruits could make this target difficult to achieve.

According to its website data, the Lancashire force experienced the steepest decline in searches for police jobs, with a 28.9 per cent fall in jobseeker interest in the past two years, followed by the West Midlands force, which fell by 27.1 per cent.

The Metropolitan Police, which is England’s largest force at nearly 31,000 officers has dropped by 12.33 per cent since 2017.

In addition, the latest official figures show police numbers have declined steadily since 2010.

Last year saw the lowest police officer levels since 1981, and although 766 officers have been added over the past 12 months, over the past decade the net drop in police numbers across England and Wales is 20,597.

Bill Richards, UK managing director at Indeed, said finding an extra 20,000 police officers “would be a challenge at any time”, but it is likely to be even tougher with UK unemployment at its lowest level in more than four decades at 3.8 per cent.

Despite a 2.5 per cent pay rise from next month, he highlighted that all employers, including those in the public sector like police forces, would need to focus on “selling the full range of benefits” their business brings to win recruits.

He added: “While it can be a challenging job with long and anti-social hours, police officers enjoy a unique sense of social responsibility, trust and respect as well as a relatively attractive pension. 

“But with our data suggesting some jobseekers may need some convincing, it remains to be seen if the government’s high-profile plan to boost the police ranks will spark a renewed wave of jobseeker interest.”

Meanwhile, to achieve the massive increase in officer numbers in a relatively short space of time, chiefs may be forced to offer pension sweeteners to retain the services of policing personnel about to retire.

It has emerged a working group of senior chiefs is to consider expanding a scheme pioneered by Scotland Yard to combat a shortfall of experienced officers – taking on cases including murder, rape and other serious crime.

Rather than taking permanent retirement, officers are offered the chance to return to their post at the same rank and salary with the added bonus of first being able to draw a six-figure lump sum from their pension.

Before, officers would have been penalised for drawing from their pension pot if they stayed in employment beyond 30 years, but the Met scheme allows them to return and take the pension contributions as extra pay or an open additional personal pension. 

It is anticipated that this scheme could retain a proportion of the 6,000 officers who quit or retire every year.

Police recruitment has leapt to second in the political agenda of Mr Johnson’s new administration – behind Brexit – as the prime minister has promised the high-ranking team tasked with the “absolute priority” of recruiting an extra 20,000 officers he is committed to a new era of “strong, visible policing”.

The Prime Minister said the creation of a body that will hold the “service to account” marked the start of a new partnership between police and government.

Mr Johnson re-iterated his “started within weeks” and “complete within three years” pledges for the recruitment drive of new officers, adding: "We need to be getting crime down.”

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The problem I think is the realisation that the pay and conditions don't look as good as they used to be in comparison to working elsewhere.  I've not applied this time because I don't want to miss my daugher's birthdays, or fight for holidays and I want to take advantage of time with my family.  While I'd like to do the job full time, I also don't want my days off cancelling because somewhere there is a football match that might cause problems. 

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Another reason for the reduction  might be that the anti police rhetoric from the Government might be having an effect.  I'm sure that people will have taken notice of the constant drip of anti police stories by May throughout her period as Home Sec and PM as well as the lack of support from police ministers and that will have put a few people off joining.

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Round my neck of the woods the pay is excellent once you get top rate, 40k a year career, pension, holidays etc. 

Average wage for my area is around 24k. 

Great once you're there, not so great when you first start. 

Speaking purely from a BTP position there really needs to be some kind of negotiation with the TOCs to secure better travel arrangements for officers outside of London... Within London rail cops get free public transport everywhere, outside of London you're lucky to get anything at all. 

Totally backwards when compared to the old former BR cops who get free travel for themselves and their families not only in the UK but also across Europe. 

Edited by Radman
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On 08/08/2019 at 20:59, Beaker said:

The problem I think is the realisation that the pay and conditions don't look as good as they used to be in comparison to working elsewhere.  I've not applied this time because I don't want to miss my daugher's birthdays, or fight for holidays and I want to take advantage of time with my family.  While I'd like to do the job full time, I also don't want my days off cancelling because somewhere there is a football match that might cause problems. 

I realised how important this stuff actually mattered. Before I took on a civi job, I didn't think it would matter that much, but I was so wrong. Having plans and being able to make them, not feeling tired all the time and able to plan my days. 

 

I am not surprised the slump in jobseekers for the police. We have had a massive recruitment drive, and we want to take even more. There are only so many people interested in joining the police. I can't think of a way to increase recruitment unless they lower the entry standards or increase the attractiveness of the pay/benefits.

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17 hours ago, Radman said:

Round my neck of the woods the pay is excellent once you get top rate, 40k a year career, pension, holidays etc. 

Average wage for my area is around 24k. 

It sounds lovely on paper, but the reality is that deductions make you take home the same as someone with a significantly lower salary. 

I used to think our salaries were reasonable, but now, considering the level of decision making and responsibilities in many PC roles, we're being underpaid; it becomes especially noticeable if you have friends in policing outside the UK. Some of them are earning the equivalent of 1.5 times a top rate PC in London before doing any overtime. 

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It's no just about pay and conditions. It's also about knowing that you are going to be supported in doing the job in the first place, nor be expected to solve all of society's ills.

You want to know if you in doing the job you will be supported by the media, the courts and politicians when you do it, not be criticised and hung out to dry if the populist movement don't like what you've just done.

In other words, if you pursue a stolen car that ends up crashing, or you knock a rider off who has just brained someone for their mobile phone, loud voices will be shouting 'if the suspect had stopped when required, we wouldn't be here now' not meekly muttering 'lessons will be learned' whilst putting the officer through three years of anxiety only to be cleared n the end anyway.

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3 hours ago, David said:

It's no just about pay and conditions. It's also about knowing that you are going to be supported in doing the job in the first place, nor be expected to solve all of society's ills.

You want to know if you in doing the job you will be supported by the media, the courts and politicians when you do it, not be criticised and hung out to dry if the populist movement don't like what you've just done.

In other words, if you pursue a stolen car that ends up crashing, or you knock a rider off who has just brained someone for their mobile phone, loud voices will be shouting 'if the suspect had stopped when required, we wouldn't be here now' not meekly muttering 'lessons will be learned' whilst putting the officer through three years of anxiety only to be cleared n the end anyway.

I don't necessarily agree that this factors into most prospective recruits' decision, unless they have family already in the job. Most people don't have a clue about anything in this job, beyond what they see on cop shows.

Better pay however would attract a far wider pool of applicants (including those later in life who already have a family/mortgage). Hell, I'd even be ok with some of this "professionalising the Police" nonsense, if they actually upped the pay to reflect it.

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If people are joining for the money then, they are joining for the wrong reasons. Life is not all about money and other materialistic ideals.

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Raising a family and achieving the quality of life you aspire to is about money though, and if capable people can't do that in the police they'll go elsewhere. We might well want people who see the job as more than just a job, but that isn't an excuse to pay them poorly. 

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23 hours ago, miffy said:

I realised how important this stuff actually mattered. Before I took on a civi job, I didn't think it would matter that much, but I was so wrong. Having plans and being able to make them, not feeling tired all the time and able to plan my days.

 

It was thinking about those things that made me decide not to apply to the regs.  I don't mind working places with on-call, I don't mind slightly odd hours or working away a bit.  I do mind not actually being able to make plans for things because I'm off on a Saturday, and there is a good likyhood I'll have to work it. 

Workmate has had a similar experience to you when he got a "Normal" job, he quit due to cancelled leave and RDs effecting his family too much.  His experience is why I didn't apply for his old force, despite the massive number of intakes they're doing.

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3 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

If people are joining for the money then, they are joining for the wrong reasons. Life is not all about money and other materialistic ideals.

Indeed, it's also about living.  It isn't about being late home most days, it isn't about missing your children because you're sat next to a hospital bed due to custody pains, it isn't about "The OT" from August to May.  It's about a decent quality of life where you get to enjoy it too.  I currently work Nights, and have done for 12 years, and I get paid fairly well for it.  I'm taking a 5k pay drop to work Monday-Friday 9-5 because I my quality of life is poor, and the money isn't filling the hole for missing time with my wife and daughter.  Similary I'm not applying for the regs because it won't allow me the same time with my family, and it is even less convenient for shifts and finish times than what I do now (plus the 10k pay drop to start the regs doesn't even throw me a bone, though that is a secondary issue). 

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10 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

If people are joining for the money then, they are joining for the wrong reasons. Life is not all about money and other materialistic ideals.

Says the lad sitting pretty on the old pension 😉

I don't believe anyone with an ounce of sense joins this job for the money; the salary is simply not enough to account for all the stresses, scrutiny, danger and responsibility, unless you wanted to be here anyway. At the moment however, you've got plenty of coppers who rely on overtime to support their families or have any chance of owning their own property. You can't just dismiss that as "materialistic ideals", that's basic living.

With below inflation pay rises, police pay is getting progressively worth less and less each year, and it's not ok. 

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As people have said, it's not a job to join for the money. Yes, the job can be attractive to people, however, the workforce is demotivated, overworked and underappreciate.  The problem is not only that there is a problem with people being interested in joining but also retaining officers. 

 

17 hours ago, David said:

It's no just about pay and conditions. It's also about knowing that you are going to be supported in doing the job in the first place, nor be expected to solve all of society's ills.

You want to know if you in doing the job you will be supported by the media, the courts and politicians when you do it, not be criticised and hung out to dry if the populist movement don't like what you've just done.

In other words, if you pursue a stolen car that ends up crashing, or you knock a rider off who has just brained someone for their mobile phone, loud voices will be shouting 'if the suspect had stopped when required, we wouldn't be here now' not meekly muttering 'lessons will be learned' whilst putting the officer through three years of anxiety only to be cleared n the end anyway.

This is a really important point. Pay and conditions will not solve everything.  

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I find it hard to believe there is a slump. My force is similar to Lancs and not that far. When they open the recruitment they are inundated with applications. 

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