The Police Uplift Programme – Report Summary

This is a House of Commons Committee report, with recommendations to government. The Government has two months to respond.

Author: Committee of Public Accounts

Related inquiry: Police uplift programme

Date Published: 22 July 2022

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The Police Uplift Programme provides a welcome example of the Home Office (the Department) delivering a major police-centred programme which looks to be on track to meet its final target. Recruitment began in September 2019 and the Department has so far met the targets set for the Programme, with 13,500 additional officers recruited by the end of March 2022. The Programme presents an opportunity to learn lessons that could benefit both the Department and wider government.

While the Programme is on track to succeed, the Department faces a challenging final year. It must recruit an additional 6,500 officers by March 2023, at a time when the labour market is changing and public trust and confidence in policing has been damaged in some areas. There is a pressing need to reform aspects of police culture and make forces more representative of the communities they serve, taking best practice lessons where they exist. The recent Strategic Review of Policing concluded that the Programme was having a negligible impact on workforce diversity; while the Department does not believe that to be the case, it does acknowledge that it would have wanted the Programme to have had a greater impact on diversity.

The government promised that the additional 20,000 officers would help to cut crime, get criminals off the street and keep people safe. But to date the Department has focused on getting people through the door and has not set out how it will measure the impact the new officers will have. The way officers have been assigned to forces is also out of date by at least 7 years. This will result in some police forces, such as Surrey police, having more officers by March 2023 compared to 2010, with others remaining below previous peak strength. Forces will need to manage the consequences of this mismatch when the Department finally reviews its approach to funding the police.

Finally, the additional investigative capacity developed by the new officers may lead to a substantial increase in the number of criminal prosecutions brought before the courts, which, as set out in our Forty-Third Report (Reducing the backlog in criminal courts) of the previous Session, are already facing a huge backlog of cases. The Department and the wider criminal justice system do not yet seem to fully understand the extent of this impact and the attendant risk.