West Midlands Police numbers on the rise – but senior officers 'spread more thinly than ever'
West Midlands Police has seen officer numbers boosted by nearly 900 since a government recruitment drive was launched.
The latest Home Office data shows the force strength stood at 7,579 in March, up 393 from 12 months ago, a 5.5 per cent hike.
It takes the total number of new recruits to 899 since late 2019, when Boris Johnson launched a drive to bring in 20,000 new officers nationwide by March 2023.
West Midlands Police is to get around 1,200 new officers in total.
The increase has been welcomed by MPs, but Police Federation bosses warned the force was suffering due to a lack of experienced officers available to show the ropes to new recruits.
West Bromwich West MP Shaun Bailey said the Government was "on track" to deliver on its manifesto promise, with 13,790 officers recruited up to now.
He said: "The additional police for the West Midlands builds on the Conservative Government's Beating Crime Plan and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, aimed at reducing crime, protecting victims and making the country safer."
Richard Cooke, West Midlands Police Federation chair, said that while the uplift was welcome, concerns remained over the low number of senior officers available to support the development of new recruits.
He said: “We need more officers. But, what we are seeing over an over again, is that they are not fulfilling their potential.
"This is due to the fact that the experienced officers they need to support their development are spread more thinly than ever.
"The ratio of students to tutor constable is too high – it should be one to one but sadly it's often more like one to four in many cases.
"Students are being posted to high demand, high risk areas of business such as Public Protection and Force CID and expected to manage heavy complex workloads at an earlier stage than ever I have seen in my 22 years of service.
“Urgent investment is needed in pay, to retain and reward experience and skills, training and infrastructure, to make sure these officers are at the locations they are needed at the heart of communities.
"Our force covers a large and very diverse region, so it is incredibly important that it is properly resourced with a workforce that reflects the communities it serves."
Officer numbers remain a key political issue in the West Midlands, with successive Labour police and crime commissioners blaming the region's soaring crime rate on cuts to force budgets which saw 2,200 officers lost over a decade.
The total number of serving officers across England and Wales currently stands at 140,228.