HC Deb 09 April 2001 vol 366 cc460-1W
28. Maria Eagle

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to improve recruitment and retention of police officers. [156049]

Mr. Charles Clarke

We have established the Crime Fighting Fund (CFF) to enable forces to recruit 9,000 officers over and above the number they had previously planned in the three years 2000–01 to 2002–03. Forces report that about 2,800 CFF officers were recruited in 2000–01.

We have launched the first national police recruitment advertising campaign. There had been over 129,000 responses to the campaign by 25 March 2000 and over 27,000 expressions of interest had been passed to forces.

We are reviewing entry requirements for the Police Service to ensure consistency across forces and a good supply of quality candidates.

In order to improve retention of police officers, we have been considering how we might be able to encourage more officers who have completed 30 years' service but not reached compulsory retirement age, to remain, where they have key skills and experience. Measures to address sickness rates and medical retirement are set out in my answer to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) on 18 December 2000, Official Report, column 59W.

Measures to improve both retention and recruitment are: £3,327 per annum increase in London Allowance for officers in the Metropolitan and the City of London police who joined on or after 1 September 1994 and receive no housing allowance; provision (at a cost of £2.45 million next year) of free rail travel within a 70 mile radius of London for Metropolitan police officers; allowances for officers serving in the south-east, as set out in my answer to the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry) on 12 March 2001, Official Report, column 485W; the Government's Starter Homes Initiative under which £250 million will be made available over the next three years. Bids covering a number of police force areas have proceeded to Stage 2 of the bidding round.