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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

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Fewer young bobbies on the beat in Cumbria

THE number of young police officers in Cumbria has dropped dramatically, with figures revealing a near 60 per cent fall in three years.

Statistics show there were 65 bobbies aged under 26 in the county in 2009/10 – but there were just 27 in the last financial year.

Overall police numbers have fallen in recent years following tighter budget constraints.

There have been freezes in recruitment and relatively small amounts taken on when new recruits are brought in.

The results mean only two per cent of officers fell into the under-26 age range in the last financial year – only one per cent more than those aged over 55.

Lee Skelton, chairman of the force union, Cumbria Police Federation, said this was “easily attributable” to the recruitment situation in recent years.

“We are also tending to see a trend in that people have been joining the police service later in life,” he said.

“Recruits don’t tend to be 18 or 19-year-olds, they tend to be in their 20s and 30s.”

Mr Skelton added it was disappointing “young blood” was not coming through as the force should represent every social group, adding the federation had expressed concern about “the aging profile of the beat police officer”.

A raising of the retirement age to 60 could also mean frontline officers of that age “wrestling with people on the streets”.

“That’s far less appropriate than someone in the prime of their youth in peak physical condition,” he added.

But Mr Skelton said there was still a high quality of recruit coming into the job and that life experience also counted.

“Confrontation and physical action is a last resort,” he added.

“The most important aspects for us are communication and nouse.”

Nationally, the number of young police officers in England and Wales fell by nearly 50 per cent in the same period.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Recruitment is a matter for individual forces and it is for chief constables and police and crime commissioners to ensure they have the right mix of officers.

“Police officers play a vital role in this country, fighting crime and keeping us safe.

“Our reforms are working – crime is falling and public confidence is high.”

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