Trust in police just as important as recruit numbers - The Yorkshire Post says

Many readers will remember a time when their community was served by a familiar police officer, known to residents by name and who came to be trusted over time.

Those kind of links seem to have long since elapsed but the concept is still thought to hold a lot of sway with voters – getting more ‘bobbies on the beat’ has never ceased to be a political card to play.

Now Home Office statistics show that more than 20,000 new police officers have been recruited in England and Wales in the past three years, meeting a Conservative 2019 election manifesto pledge to reach the figure by March 2023. Home Secretary Suella Braverman says there are now around 150,00 police officers - the most we’ve ever had.

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However Steve Hartshorn, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents more than 139,000 rank-and-file officers, was quick to point out that the Government has effectively just back-filled the more than 21,000 full time equivalent officers cut since 2010 (while the population they need to police has also grown).

Picture: Simon Hulme.Picture: Simon Hulme.
Picture: Simon Hulme.

And while numbers are important, it is a high quality of service which communities want to see. The vast majority of officers show their dedication and bravery on a daily basis. But there is no avoiding that horrific cases such as Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens’ murder of Sarah Everard in March 2021 have corroded our confidence in those responsible for protecting citizens.

The faceless nature of modern policing – the lack of those who are known by name – will do little to help restore faith. As much as numbers, people want to feel trust.