Force counts cost of quitting officers

NEARLY one in seven new police officers in Suffolk either quit or are dismissed from the force before the end of their two years' probation - costing the force hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

By Danielle Nuttall

NEARLY one in seven new police officers in Suffolk either quit or are dismissed from the force before the end of their two years' probation - costing the force hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

Figures released by Suffolk Constabulary reveal 43 out of the 291 probationary officers in the past four years dropped out or were dismissed by the force - which could represent as much as £1million in wasted training.

The highest number of officers to quit or be dismissed since 2002 was in 2003/04 where 20 left, five within the first six months and 15 within the first two years.


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Suffolk Constabulary estimates the average salary, training and development costs of a probationary police constable up to independent patrol (31 weeks after joining the force) is £27,592.

This means that in 2003/04, Suffolk Constabulary could have forked out as much as £551,840 on training officers who then decided or were told to leave.

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Phil Smith, secretary of Suffolk Police Federation, said the number of probationary police officers leaving concerned him.

“We are losing 15% and because of the funding that's been put into the training, the money is dead money. It's lost. That concerns me.

“You want a return on your investment and we are not getting it.”

Mr Smith said he was not aware of the actual cost to the force of officers leaving or being dismissed but said he was in no doubt it would be an “astounding” figure.

He added that there were no specific issues for why so many were choosing to leave, although he speculated that paperwork and long hours could be responsible.

“I certainly think the level of bureaucracy has had an impact on some people. Maybe it's the long hours that officers have to work or they're continuing to have rest days cancelled for football duties. There are all sorts of reasons but I've had no feedback,” he said.

“We do not become involved with the selection process. Perhaps that's something we need to look into.

“The force does try to encourage officers to stay as much as they can. It's not a case of 'You're resigning, off you go”. The force does conduct exit interviews if someone resigns to find out the reasons why.”

A spokesman for the force said policing is a demanding and challenging job and there can be a number of reasons why officers might choose to leave at an early stage of their career.

“One of these reasons is that the job may not meet their expectations - that they are not up to the challenge of working to ensure that Suffolk remains one of the safest counties in the country,” he said.

“From an organisational point of view it is advantageous to establish who has the commitment and capability to help police the county at this early stage.

“While we try and manage this prior to employment, by following national guidelines and standards on recruitment, it is inevitable that some people will still leave.

“As with all members of the constabulary, trainees and probationers have access to an extensive support network to help them throughout their career within the force.”

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