Kent Police has been somewhat embarrassed after a recent recruitment drive led to bafflement from local residents. Two of the posters meant to encourage recruitment appear to suggest police officers have become criminals. The confusion has overshadowed the intent of the campaign.
In recent years, Kent Police has faced substantial budget cuts. Now, an increase in council tax of about £1 a month per person is allowing Kent Police to recruit around 200 extra officers and 80 police staff in the next year. In 2016/17, the average council tax bill for the police was £157.15. In 2018/19, this will rise to £169.15. This budget increase has led to the #MoreThanTheBadge campaign to encourage more people to apply to join the police. It is the biggest recruitment campaign in the history of the force.
One poster in the campaign reads “From first responder to prison absconder” over a picture of a firearms officer, whilst another states “From intel to prison cell”. This has led to members of the public criticising the force on social media. They claim that instead of being encouraging, the posters suggest that police officers are fleeing prison themselves. This prevents the campaign from being taken seriously.
Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner also took to Twitter to respond to the criticism. Whilst he admitted that the wording of some of the posters was unfortunate, he defended the recruitment campaign as a whole. The posters are meant to display the range of careers and varied tasks available within the police. According to the commissioner, Kent Police is receiving twice as many applications as it did at the same point in the previous year.
One superintendent also defended the campaign. She claims that the campaign has reached over 2.5 million people on social media since it launched in March 2018. This has led to more than 800 applications to join the force. She also pointed out that Kent Police has been rated “outstanding” by the Independent Police Inspectorate.
Successful applicants will join a training programme before they become active police officers. This programme will cover legal training and physical fitness, as well as being tutored by local teams of police. New officers may be placed in a variety of roles, including cybercrime, rural policing, road policing and local policing. Other staff will include call handlers for both 999 and 101 calls.
The new officers are in addition to the planned recruitment of 240 new members to replace staff who are leaving. There are currently more than 3,000 constables in Kent Police.
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