â€˜We need to put the focus on officer retention’

Gwent Police Federation has called for greater focus on retaining new recruits after new figures revealed high numbers of officers were quitting the service before completing their probation.

Data from the National Police Chiefs’ Council, obtained by Police Oracle, revealed a 12.8 per cent attrition rate at Gwent Police with 42 early leavers from 327 new recruits.

The recruits have been recorded from November 2019 and the leavers from April 2020.

The Gwent figure is higher than the national average of 9.1 per cent which equates to 2,567 early leavers from 28,173 new recruits.

Gwent Police Federation secretary Annalea Kift said: “These figures clearly show that not enough is being done to ensure new officers complete their probationary period.

“There has to be a much greater focus on retaining new recruits and that means fairer pay and conditions, more investment in mental health and wellbeing, better benefits and improvements in training and integrated learning.

“The Police Federation’s most recent pay and morale survey found nearly half of Gwent Police officers worried about the state of their personal finances every day or almost every day, while 13 per cent reported never or almost never having enough money to cover their monthly essentials.

“Hardly any of our members think they are fairly paid for the difficult and often stressful job they do and five per cent want to leave the police service, either within the next two years or as soon as possible.”

Annalea said it was vital that urgent action was taken to reduce the number of officers leaving the Force before serving their probation.

“We have always insisted that officer retention is as vital as recruitment and it is time the reasons behind such high rates of attrition are recognised, taken seriously and properly dealt with,” she explained.

The highest rate of attrition across the 43 forces of England and Wales was Northamptonshire with 19.3 per cent.

North Yorkshire recorded 16.8 per cent, followed by Cambridgeshire at 16.1 per cent and Bedfordshire with 15.7 per cent.

On the lower end of the scale, Cumbria and North Wales each have a rate of 3.9 per cent, while Merseyside and West Midlands both recorded 5.4 per cent.

Data shows 11,048 officers have now been recruited from funding for the Police Uplift Programme and contributed towards the target of 20,000 by March 2023.

If the 20,000 target is achieved, it would bring officer numbers up to around 148,000, which is slightly above the number of officers in 2010.