Boris Johnson visits North Yorkshire's police headquarters in Northallerton to announce police recruitment figures

Police forces in Yorkshire have hired 325 extra police officers in the first eight months of the Government's recruitment drive.

The overall provisional headcount of officers in England and Wales is now 133,131, according to Home Office figures to the end of June.

This includes 4,336 hired as part of the 20,000 pledge made before the General Election by Prime Boris Johnson, the quarterly report on the progress of the scheme said.

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The latest figures were announced as Mr Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel visited the headquarters of North Yorkshire Police in Northallerton today.

During the visit the PM was introduced to new police recruits, petted a police dog and sat atop a police motorbike.

Although the number of police officers is rising there are still 10 per cent fewer on duty compared to peak numbers just over a decade ago, according to other figures also published by the department on Thursday.

The recruitment campaign is 72 per cent towards meeting its first year target of 6,000 by March 2021, the Home Office said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is introduced to recently graduated Police Officers during a visit to North Yorkshire Police headquarters, Northallerton. Photo credit should read: Charlotte Graham/Daily Telegraph/PA Wire

So far, 89,950 applications to become a police officer have been received since the campaign launched in October.

The national total of 4,000 extra officers includes 325 in Yorkshire and the Humber, including 42 additional officers for Humberside Police, 69 for North Yorkshire Police and 222 for West Yorkshire Police.

South Yorkshire Police is still eight officers below their 'baseline level' because it has not managed to achieve the recruitment of officers it predicted before the PM's announcement last year.

Overall, 9,327 officers have joined forces since November, with the new recruits from the campaign being on top of those hired to fill existing vacancies or as part of other job adverts.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is introduced to recently graduated Police Officers during a visit to North Yorkshire Police headquarters, Northallerton. Photo credit should read: Charlotte Graham/Daily Telegraph/PA Wire

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We are delivering on the people’s priorities – putting more police officers on the streets to keep us safe.

“Our brave police officers have gone above and beyond during the coronavirus pandemic, clearly inspiring many others to join them.

“My support for them remains unwavering – they deserve our utmost gratitude and respect.”

Mr Johnson visited a Yorkshire police headquarters when he announced the recruitment scheme last year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is introduced to recently graduated Police Officers during a visit to North Yorkshire Police headquarters, Northallerton. Photo credit should read: Charlotte Graham/Daily Telegraph/PA Wire

But his speech at West Yorkshire Police's Carr Gate base was overshadowed by his brother Jo quitting the Government because of his views on Brexit.

And he had to apologise to a police recruit who collapsed after being made to wait around while Mr Johnson made his speech.

Number 10 and West Yorkshire Police were later criticised for allowing police recruits to be used for a party political speech.

The Government is using headcount figures to measure the number of police officers now being hired, saying this is the "most appropriate way" to track recruitment rather than looking at figures for full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, because new recruits tend to start their career on a full-time basis.

At the end of March 2020, the police officer headcount was 131,576 while the number of FTE officers was 129,110 - a 2% difference.

Boris Johnson vowed to swell the police service to more than 140,000 officers by mid-2022 if he was elected Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is introduced to recently graduated Police Officers during a visit to North Yorkshire Police headquarters, Northallerton. Photo credit should read: Charlotte Graham/Daily Telegraph/PA Wire

Police officer numbers in England and Wales fell by more than 20,000 between 2009 and 2018.

But the Home Office said they have risen for the second year running and now show the largest annual increase since 2003/4 - up 5% since March 2019 from 123,189 to 129,110 FTE officers.

While this is also the highest number of officers since March 2013, the latest workforce figures are still 10% lower than the peak at the same period in 2009 (143,769), showing a 14,659 drop in FTE officers.

The number of FTE community support officers (PCSOs) fell 4% on 2019, from 9,547 to 9,180, and has almost halved in a decade from a 16,918 peak in March 2010.

Meanwhile, the headcount number of special constables dropped 10% in the last year, from 10,642 to 9,571 with figures showing numbers plummeting by more than 10,000 in eight years after 20,343 were on duty in 2012.

When the recruitment drive was announced, some police chiefs called on the Government to make sure the 43 forces in England and Wales received their fair share of resources.

The forces with the highest recruitment target for the first year are the Metropolitan Police (1,369), West Midlands (366) and Greater Manchester (347).

Those to receive the lowest numbers of new recruits this financial year are Warwickshire (41), Dyfed-Powys (42) and City of London (44).

Online assessment centres were set up in a bid to keep the recruitment drive on track during the coronavirus outbreak when face-to-face meetings had to stop as buildings shut.

The online centres are now being used by 30 forces, with more due to sign up over the summer.