South Wales Police to hire 50 new officers after 47 let go
SOUTH Wales Police is taking on an extra 50 constables — having just forced 47 experienced officers to retire.
The new bobbies will initially be recruited internally from existing police staff and PCSOs, and the Evening Post understands more than 400 people have already expressed an interest.
The force has said recruiting the new intake of officers is part of its "normal forward- planning" process.
South Wales Police is also recruiting more than 200 extra PCSOs — with the cash coming from the Welsh Government.
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In common with all forces, South Wales Police has seen a major cut in its funding from the Home Office, and is having to make big cuts in what it spends — it is currently looking at a £47 million blackhole in its finances.
However, because police officers cannot be made redundant — they are "Crown servants" rather than normal employees — the force has turned to a clause in its pension regulations which can require officers who have served for 30 years or more to retire.
Use of the A19 pension regulations, as they are known, has proved controversial because it inevitably means experienced officers are the ones forced out.
Mark Milton, director of human resources for South Wales Police, said some "very difficult decisions" had had to be taken about officer numbers, but that the force had seen a reduction in crime levels through the changes — something it was determined to continue.
He said: "As part of normal forward-planning, and to ensure that we can continue to meet the challenges we face, we have undertaken detailed analysis and have forecast organisational staffing needs over the forthcoming years.
"This has shown that recruitment and training of new officers needed to start now. As officers leave through retirement and resignation, we need to ensure that as an organisation, we retain a balance of experienced officers and newly recruited talent to maintain an effective service to the public."
As well as the 47 officers who have been axed, some 135 police staff have taken voluntary early retirement.
In the western division alone — which covers Swansea and Neath Port Talbot — officers and staff with more than 700 years of policing experience have left in the last year.
The 50 successful applicants will join the force in March and will finish their training by late 2012 — they will then start a two-year probationary period.
Meanwhile, the force is shortly expected to start looking for the new PCSOs.
More community support officers was part of Labour's Assembly manifesto at the May elections, and South Wales is to get 209 of the recruits.
However, the funding for the new posts — which is coming from Cardiff Bay — is only guaranteed until the next election.
Mr Milton added: "I believe that these are very positive moves both for the public of South Wales, and our workforce."