Government statistics show the force lost 75 police officers last year, however Surrey Police are confident they will ‘ensure quality service’
10:38, 16 AUGUST 2015
BY MARK EDWARDS
Surrey Police has denied that a reduction in the number of officers will affect its ability to deliver a high-quality service to the public.
A larger than usual loss of staff this year has led to questions being raised on whether the force can maintain policing standards with fewer officers.
Government statistics show the force lost 75 police officers last year, down from 1,938 officers at the end of March 2014 to 1,863 full-time officers at the end of March this year.
Civilian staff in Surrey also dropped, with 95 staff members leaving the force, reducing levels from 1,592 to 1,497 in the same period.
There are also 29 fewer police community support officers on the streets, down to 123, and 60 fewer part-time special constables, now down to 122.
Surrey Police is actively recruiting officers and a spokesman said a number of intakes was scheduled for the remainder of the financial year.
“We are also actively recruiting officers transferring from other forces and have already seen a number of officers join us in this way during the year,” he said.
“The reduction in officer numbers in comparison with previous years can be attributed to a number of factors, including the fact that other forces are now recruiting, which was not the case in previous years as many had operated a recruitment freeze.
“The numbers also reflect changes in the national economic outlook and employment market, which have seen many potential applicants taking roles outside policing than in previous years.
“The force is confident that there are sufficient officer numbers throughout Surrey to ensure that a high quality police service to our local communities is maintained.”
However, Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kevin Hurley, believes the force’s struggle to hold on to its officers and recruit new ones is down to the high cost of living in the county.
In a letter to the chairman of the Police Renumeration Body, David Lebrecht, Mr Hurley pointed out that in the latest intake of officers, only 32 people were successfully recruited to fill a 140-strong gap.
Mr Hurley suggested that police constables starting their careers in Surrey cannot afford to live in the county on a starting salary of £22,000, so the force was losing officers to the Metropolitan Police, which offers an additional £4,000 as part of a London allowance.
He said: “Home ownership is completely unattainable to a Surrey police officer wanting to step on the property ladder.
“Equally, it is possible to buy or rent property more cheaply in the neighbouring London boroughs of Hounslow, Kingston, Sutton or Croydon than in parts of Surrey.
“Even a pint of beer in Surrey will cost more than £5, compared to £3 in other parts of the country. It is little wonder that Surrey faces such difficulties in recruiting and retaining officers”.
Anyone who is interested in joining Surrey Police can visit www.surrey.police.uk/Careers/Police-Officers.