DISILLUSIONED police are quitting the force early, with chiefs blaming the toxic trio of violence, low pay and increased exposure on social media. Around 1,170 officers resigned in 2011-2012 but this rocketed by 88 percent to nearly 2,200 in 2018-2019, analysis by the Daily Express has found.
The figures are the latest available and the highest since the Police Remuneration Review Body began collecting data in 2006. Experts say that losing so many experienced officers while trying to hire 20,000 new recruits – a target set by the Government – will be a "tragedy". Talented officers will be expected to take on more complex investigations as well as helping to train the newbies.
But within five years, almost half of officers – 44 percent – will have been in the job less than three years, police chiefs predict.
They estimate they will need to hire 53,000 people over the next three years to boost numbers by 20,000.
Academic Rick Muir, who is leading a strategic review into the police, told the Daily Express: "Not enough thought is given to this.
"There is a big focus on the additional 20,000 officers. It is a race to get bums on seats. That raises questions of whether they will get people who will stick it out.
"An 88 percent increase in officers voluntarily resigning is concerning. For one thing very many of those people will be needed to supervise, train and mentor the new recruits coming in.
"The focus at the moment is understandably on attracting new recruits, but it would be a tragedy if we lost many of these new police officers after just a few years because of not investing properly in supporting them in their roles."
Frontline police have repeatedly spoken out about increasing violence.
Just yesterday a policeman was hit and dragged 40ft by a speeding car in Southgate, north London.
Remarkably he was back at work later in the day.
Officers are also fed-up of the scrutiny they face on social media.
Britain's top policewoman, Dame Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said: "We cannot do our job unless the general public believe that we are legitimate and doing the right thing.
"But every now and then, particularly now with social media and 24/7 news, you know, you get a campaign about this, you get a campaign about that, or the other."
Protests She also said since George Floyd's death in the US, policing in Britain had changed.
"In a matter of just less than a couple of weeks, people started to protest and for the Met some of those protests were extremely difficult.
"Large scale, not organised, nobody to engage with, not safe and, as we know, a number of those turned really nasty and violent and my officers were injured. So, that's a big effect."
Ken Marsh, of the Met Police Federation, said: "Many are resigning due to the challenges of the job, because of what we are being asked to perform, because of the fact our employer can work us for 20 hours straight and then tell us to be back in four hours.
"The pay is derisory. More people are quitting because of the violence and the public exposure they receive through social media. There is a drain of experienced officers.
"When I joined there were the old-school officers who could mentor and help you.
We have got people joining then leaving in a blink."
The Home Office said: "The retention of experienced officers is a priority for us, to help train and mentor the next generation.
"Only two percent of officers leave voluntarily before retirement age, fewer than in other public and private sector work forces."
The Government has rightly committed to recruiting an extra 20,000 police.
The fact that between November 2019 and March 2020 6,435 new officers were recruited shows there is considerable appetite out there for joining the police.
However, an 88 percent increase in officers voluntarily resigning is concerning.
For one thing, very many of those people will be highly experienced officers.
These officers are needed to supervise, train and mentor the new recruits coming in, who will predominantly come from younger age groups.
Experienced officers are also required in areas such as serious crime investigations, where demand is increasing (due to increased reporting of sexual offences, domestic abuse offences and child sexual abuse crimes), but where we have a national shortage of 5,000 detectives.
Forces are being compelled to pay more for retired officers to come back on a contracted basis to fill some of these gaps.
So what can be done to improve retention? It is important to make sure that police are supported throughout their careers.
Some of this is about having a pay and promotions system that is attractive vis-a-vis alternative jobs in other sectors.
The specialist skills that detectives acquire are in high demand in private sector security roles, for example.
But it is not just about money.
It is also about providing ongoing learning and development opportunities for police officers throughout their careers, and throughout their daily work.
Too much of what gets counted as police training is sporadic and low-quality.
We need to invest in the quality of people management in policing so that officers feel properly supported by their managers, from sergeants through to chief officers.
Policing can be a stressful and dangerous job, and there is a need to consider and provide for the mental and physical wellbeing of police officers.
The focus at the moment is understandably on attracting recruits, but it would be a tragedy if we lost many of these new police officers after just a few years because of not investing properly in supporting them in their roles.