Police jobs crisis sparks ad review

The Government is to spend around pounds 4 million on the first national recruitment campaign for police officers in an attempt to stem an embarrassing fall in police numbers.

The Government is to spend around pounds 4 million on the first

national recruitment campaign for police officers in an attempt to stem

an embarrassing fall in police numbers.



The Home Office, which has left recruitment to individual police forces

in the past, is drawing up urgent proposals for a television and

national press blitz. The drive will be financed from the pounds 285

million ’crime-fighting package’ introduced in this year’s budget.



An agency is expected to be appointed in the next two months. Although

no shortlist has yet been drawn up, Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper is tipped to

win a place after its previous work for the Home Office, including the

recruitment of special constables, voter registration and fire

safety.



The campaign will prove politically controversial, with the Conservative

Party accusing Labour of using taxpayers’ money in an attempt to honour

its 1997 general election pledge to ’get more officers back on the

beat’.



A Tory spokesman said: ’This is a panic move by a government that has

failed to deliver on law and order and cannot be trusted.’



Jack Straw, the home secretary, has admitted that there could be fewer

police officers at the time of the next election than when Labour came

to power, with an unusually high number of officers eligible for

retirement this year. In 1997 police numbers stood at 127,000 but Home

Office projections suggest the figure could fall by 2,600 by next spring

when the next general election is due.



The campaign brief is expected to call for the winning agency to tackle

the police’s ’image problem’ and to portray the force as a modern,

hi-tech organisation that is exciting to work for. At-tempts to boost

police numbers have been hit by a high drop-out rate, particularly in

London, where the abolition of the Metropolitan Police housing allowance

six years ago has also been blamed for falling recruitment. The

Government now plans to restore the allowance and some forces are

planning ’golden hellos’ of up to pounds 5,000 to lure recruits deterred

by low pay.



Straw ran into controversy last autumn when a leaked Treasury memo

revealed that his pledge to recruit an extra 5,000 officers would not

increase overall numbers but at best would only keep them stable.



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