Thousands of fully-trained police officers need to be recruited over the next three years if forces are to meet the expected rise in policing demand, the Police Federation has warned.
Paul McKeever, the chairman of the federation which represents all 140,000 rank-and-file officers, will call on the government to provide funding to recruit more than 2,000 officers across the Police Service to deal with anticipated rising levels of crime during the recession, at the organisation's annual conference in Bournemouth today.
The Federation claimed that crime would go up nearly a quarter over the next two years, caused by the recession. McKeever raised concerns that there would not be enough officers to deal with rising crime as the relative number of police officers per 100,000 of the population has fallen steadily since 2006.
In that time the total number of officers has fallen from 260 to 254 per 100,000 people, with the number of constables down from 204 to 198. If this trend continues over the three years to 2012 then the total number of officers would decline to 251:100,000 and constables to 193:100,000, the federation warned.
McKeever said: "With crime rates set to increase as the recession deepens, politicians of all parties need to sit up and take notice of this Police Federation research, which clearly shows that the resilience of the service will be damaged unless police officer strength is increased over the next three years."
He added: "We must not lose sight that we will also be policing the biggest sporting event this country has handled in 2012, when the Olympics comes to the UK. How we are expected to deal with the demands this will place upon the service, in addition to the increasing property crime rates with fewer officers per head of the population, is beyond me."
However, a report by Sir Ronnie Flanagan, chief inspector of constabulary, warned last year that police numbers were unsustainable and were likely to fall over the next three years as the UK could not afford to keep policing levels at their current rates.