Government claims are "misleading and misplaced"
Suella Braverman has been called out over claims made this week that the government has hit record breaking police recruitment targets.
The government are declaring a victory for saying they have delivered a manifesto target of recruiting 20,000 more police officers in England and Wales, as Braverman appealed to the right-wing press by boasting that there are now more officers than ever before in the history of policing.
However this claim has come under rigorous scrutiny, not just from a fact checking charity but also from the Police Federation itself.
Whilst this number is correct based on an increase between 2019 and March 2023, the figures follow a substantial decline in police numbers from 2010 to 2017 – estimated by the charity Full Fact to be a fall of almost 22,000 officers.
Figures revealed that there are actually only around 3,500 more officers now than there were in 2010, due to the huge drop in numbers before 2017.
This puts the number of officers reached in the government’s target, broadly equivalent to the number of officers that were actually cut under the first half of Tory rule.
Even the Police Federation, who represents rank-and-file officers, have come out to label the government’s claim as “misleading and misplaced”.
The tabloids inevitably rallied behind the Home Secretary, with the Sun congratulating the Tories for hitting their supposed target and applauding Braverman for ‘warning police that their standing is in mortal danger’ over fears of ‘enforcing wokery’.
However, when pressed on the legitimacy of the ‘victory’, Braverman was left repeating herself during an interview on Good Morning Britain, as presenter Susanna Reid pushed her on the Tory’s police recruitment record.
Mentioning the cut of over 20,000 officers in seven years, Reid pointed out, “you are simply just filling the gap.”
Braverman believed that looking at the numbers over the past 10 years was “irrelevant” and shirked answering the question directly, continuing to push the line that they have “surpassed any number that was on the books even prior to 2010”, representing a “record number”.
Considering total headcount, the government’s claim that there are now a record number of police officers also doesn’t reflect the fact that the increase has not kept up with population growth since 2010.
Full Fact estimated that the number of police officers has decreased from around 1 officer per 381 people in March 2010, to 1 officer per 404 people in March 2023.
Their findings also point out that the number of Police and Community Support Officers, who tackle low-level crime and patrol communities, has hugely declined in England and Wales, from 16,918 in 2010 to 8,263 in September 2011.
Another example of facts and figures revealing a very different narrative to that chimed by Tory ministers.
Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward
(Photo credit: Good Morning Britain / Screenshot)