Britain

Recruiting police officers an ‘absolute priority’ – Johnson

By Jon Craig, chief political correspondent

Boris Johnson has pledged to hire up to new 6,000 police officers by this time next year as he attempts to meet his target of recruiting 20,000 in three years.

His vow came after he returned to London from Northern Ireland and opened the first meeting of the National Policing Board, set up to lead the recruitment drive.

The board, announced by the prime minister last week when he unveiled his police recruitment promise, will be chaired by Home Secretary Priti Patel and will meet four times a year.

It is made up of senior figures from the Metropolitan Police and regional forces, police and crime commissioners, chiefs of other crime bodies and policing minister Kit Malthouse.

"This first meeting of the new National Policing Board marks the start of a new partnership between the police and the government," Mr Johnson said at the meeting.

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"My pledge to recruit 20,000 police officers over the next three years is an absolute priority and it will begin within weeks.

"I am a prime minister who backs our police all the way and I am going to give them the resources and the confidence they need to get the job done."

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Speaking after the meeting, the home secretary said: "This government will not hesitate to act and give the police the support they need to protect the public.

"We have moved swiftly to set up this board, provide strong leadership and deliver on our commitment to recruit 20,000 more police officers to crack down on crime and keep us all safe.

"Following this meeting, the government and police will move at pace to drive forward our plans to bolster the police's ranks."

The board also discussed the changing nature of crime and the increasingly complex demand on the police, including from child sexual exploitation, serious and organised crime, and fraud.

They agreed that the board would be a useful forum for improving collaboration and consistency across the 43 police forces in England and Wales.

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