Suffolk: County’s police in age profile shock

Suffolk police

Suffolk police - Credit: Archant

ONLY 37 of Suffolk’s 1,206 police officers are aged under 26, startling figures have revealed.

It means that only 3% of police in the county fall into this age bracket, and compares with 54 out of 1,275 young officers in 2009/10. 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 two-year recruitment freeze, officers aged between 41 and 55 have remained relatively unchanged with 564 in 2009/10 compared to 579 now.

Tim Passmore, police and crime commissioner for Suffolk, said the force needs to reflect the county’s communities.

“We need to make sure the police does reflect the communities they serve and it’s not just ethnicity and gender, but also the age profile,” he added.

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“It’s perfectly reasonable to say there has been a gap in ages but we are in a position of putting that right by recruiting again. “Processes are already in place to redress the imbalance and I have made a commitment to maintain frontline officers and we will need to replace those who retire by recruiting younger officers.”

Of the 37 younger officers in Suffolk, only 12 are female. While officers aged 26 to 40 total 558, those in the 41 to 55 age bracket add up to 579 with two officers over the age of 55.

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Matt Gould, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation, blamed the recruitment freeze for fewer young officers.

“Additionally, the nature of this job is that we ask for a life experience as well as qualifications so as a consequence somebody with limited life experience is unlikely to tick the right boxes,” he added.

“While it’s reasonable to look from the outside and see we don’t appear to have many people under the age of 26, it is not a conscious choice.

“We need to have people from different walks of life who have the life experience.”

Mr Gould confirmed officers all of ages have to pass the same standard fitness assessment.

He said: “There’s a perception that police officers spend their time running after offenders all the time but this is not the case.

“While physical fitness is important for our ability to maintain public confidence, a considerable proportion of offenders are caught by fingerprints.”

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

A Suffolk police spokeswoman said: “Applicants from all backgrounds and ethnic groups are encouraged to apply to become a police officer. “Equally applicants are not limited to any particular age group, and Suffolk police welcome those who are looking for a career change.

“There was a recent period where there was a recruitment freeze on new police officers joining Suffolk police but recently there has been a modest recruitment drive.

“It is important to highlight that some of the recruits have come into force as former PCSOs, specials and transferees, which may naturally mean they are slightly older although they come with experience, which is hugely beneficial to the organisation.”

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