More than 4,000 extra police recruited in England and Wales

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Image source, PA Media

A government drive to recruit more police has led to the largest annual increase in officers for 16 years.

Under the Home Office scheme, 4,336 more have been taken on in England and Wales this year - with ministers pledging to recruit 6,000 by next March and 20,000 by March 2023.

But figures show more than 20,000 police were lost between 2010 and 2019.

The PM said he was "delivering" more officers, but Labour said services had been "cut to the bone".

Critics of the government's policing target have pointed out that the extra recruitment would do no more than return officer numbers to 2010 levels, after which they fell as part of austerity measures.

The latest figures show the largest increase in officers since 2003-4, when Labour's Tony Blair was in Downing Street.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "Just over one year on [from Mr Johnson taking over from Theresa May] we are already delivering on our promise, with over 4,000 new officers already, meaning we're ahead of track on our plans to recruit 20,000 in the next three years."

Police Scotland's latest figures show that 180 more officers were employed in March than a year earlier - an increase of 1%. This also represents a rise of 1,197, or 7.4%, since 2007.

Pay increase

In England and Wales, the government has announced plans to hire 1,000 more probation officers by the end of the year, with 800 having started training.

The supervision of all offenders on probation in England and Wales is being put back in the public sector after a series of failings with the part-privatisation of the system.

Meanwhile, the number of applications to become trainee teachers in England increased 32% from February to July, compared with that period last year, according to the university admissions service Ucas.

Under a pay deal unveiled earlier this month, public workers will receive increases of up to 3.1%.

But Labour says the Conservatives froze public sector pay for seven years, and the rises they introduced after that failed to plug the gap.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said: "It feels pretty rich for the prime minister to talk of valuing the public sector when the Covid-19 crisis has shown just how starkly his government has let down our NHS and social care workers."

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