Essex: Only one in 20 of county’s officers are under 26

Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, Nick Alston

Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, Nick Alston - Credit: Contributed

ONLY 190 of Essex’s 3,388 police officers are aged under 26, according to new figures.

The figure means only 5% of policemen and women in the county fall into this age bracket and compares with 519 out of 3,662 officers in 2010.

The figures were obtained by the East Anglian Daily Times through a Freedom of Information request.

Although police numbers have fallen due to budget cuts and a recruitment freeze, officers aged between 41 and 55 have remained relatively unchanged, with 1,237 in 2010 compared to 1,291 now.

Essex’s police and crime commissioner, Nick Alston, said the county has a relatively high number of young officers compared to other forces. “The figures show that there has been a fall in the number of younger officers in the past few years, and this is partly an inevitable result of the recruitment freeze,” he added.

“I’m delighted that Essex police has started recruiting again, and continues to attract new constables of a high standard.

“I’m confident that the decline in the proportion of young officers is not related to the new starting salary, as this has yet to be introduced.”

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Mr Alston added: “Many of our newest recruits have prior policing experience as Specials or PCSOs, and this can be most valuable.

“In the future, the new starting salary levels may be more appealing to recent graduates or school leavers with a few years of work place experience.

“Ultimately, I’m delighted that Essex has officers of all ages working to keep our communities safe.”

Of the 190 younger officers in Essex, only 65 are female. While officers aged 26 to 40 total 1,874, those in the 41 to 55 age bracket number 1,291 and officers over the age of 55 add up to 33.

Mick West, deputy secretary of Essex Police Federation, said the recruitment freeze is the reason for fewer younger officers.

“It’s quite a significant cut to be honest but there has been a recruitment freeze up until very recently with a fresh intake,” he added.

“To join the police force recruits have to pass a fitness test and a general knowledge test and new recruit intakes happen as and when they are needed.

“Essex police would take into account the number of officers set to retire before deciding when and how many to recruit.” The recent recruitment drive saw 19 constables join the Force.

Mr West added: “The concern the Federation has is that in reality, those numbers are going to increase because the wage structure for new entrants is not going to be competitive.

“There will be potential constables starting on £19,000 and people are not going to be attracted to that wage.”

People can become officers from the age of 18-and-a-half and the normal retirement age for constables and sergeants is 60.

An Essex police spokeswoman said the Force was unable to comment on the specific figures, but added: “Based on anecdotal evidence, it suggests people are joining the police force later in life, perhaps after going to university or for a career change.

“We encourage people from all walks of life and of all ages to join Essex police when we recruit as this ensures we are as diverse as the county we serve.”