Bedfordshire Police has this week announced it has exceeded its three-year target to recruit more than 650 additional officers.
The force has increased its base number of officers by 198 since it launched its biggest ever recruitment drive in 2020, as part of the Government’s national police uplift programme.
The force celebrated surpassing the target when the latest cohort of student officers started on Monday (27 March).
Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye said increasing officer numbers, especially in community policing, had been a key part of the reason he had taken the decision to increase the police council tax precept over the past two years.
“Achieving our recruitment target and exceeding this has taken immense work, especially in this, the final year of the uplift,” he said.
“We now officially have more police officers in Bedfordshire Police than at any time in the force’s history. Recent changes also indicate an improving retention rate.
“One of my campaign pledges as Police and Crime Commissioner was to increase recruitment and retention of officers here in Bedfordshire. I am delivering on these, thanks to the extra funding from the government and dedicated work of our recruitment team.
“I am very confident of the positive impact our growing frontline officer numbers will have on making our county safer.”
Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst added: “I’d like to thank all those across the force who have worked tirelessly over the last three years. Thanks to their hard work, our huge recruitment drive has paid off and resulted in us achieving our uplift targets.
“People have joined us from all walks of life, cultures and working backgrounds, which in turn brings different skills and mindsets that we need to serve our communities better.
“Although it is great to have the additional resources coming through, I’d like to caveat that with the fact there is still work to do to get the officers ready for life on the beat.
“Student officers have months of training to get them ready for life on patrol and from there they are continuously learning on the job. We have one of the highest proportions of student officers in the country and that’s a big undertaking for our trainers, tutors, and existing officers to ensure that they’re ready to serve the public.”
In 2022 the force launched its student hub to give dedicated tutorship to new recruits.
Within the first six months of joining, officers move from initial training to working on the beat, which can be a daunting transition. The hub is a dedicated resource to support students in their first 15 weeks out on the beat.
In the Student Hub, new officers work with a tutor so they can talk through each job and situation and get that much needed support. They are also able to choose non-urgent jobs to attend that fit in best with what they need to learn and experience. With this approach students can work at a slightly slower pace, be coached through, and have time to debrief after the incident.
Student Officer Elizabeth Harvey said: “I am glad I took the plunge and applied to join Bedfordshire Police. I’ve found it a supportive environment; they’ve helped me find the best learning style for me and supported me throughout initial training and now in the student hub.
“I’m really proud to say that I’ve tackled all challenges head on and am due to complete my NVQ earlier than planned – when I first joined, I would have said it would be impossible for me to do but I’ve excelled in this environment and can’t wait to see what comes next.”
If you are interested in joining Bedfordshire police, visit www.beds.police.uk/careers or pop along to the upcoming recruitment open day at Bedfordshire Police HQ in Kempston on Saturday 29 April.