“I have been clear from day one I will give police the resources they need, and I am delivering on that commitment,” Johnson said in a speech last week, referring to his key pledge of increased staffing during his Conservatives leadership campaign.
Home secretary Priti Patel, who accompanied the prime minister, urged individuals from all backgrounds to consider a career in the police force.
“Having a police service that truly reflects the communities it serves is crucial for fostering relationships built on trust and mutual respect,” Patel told Eastern Eye. “We want to attract talent from a range of backgrounds.”
“If you, or someone you know, could be a force for good and a force for all, I urge you to apply. You could make a positive difference to people’s lives every day.”
Speaking to Eastern Eye after the launch, Beverley Kaur, a neighbourhood supervisor officer for Thames Valley Police, agreed with the home secretary that the service needed to be representative of the communities it served.
“We need officers from all walks of life who can support different communities,” she said, adding that her Punjabi and Urdu language skills helped her communicate with non-English speaking Asian families.
“If we’ve got a force that is representative of the community, I feel they would have more confidence in us.”
Praising the government for their efforts to recruit more policing staff, Kaur admitted that police services were “stretched”. The number of police officers in England and Wales decreased by more than 21,000 since 2010, amid budget cuts.
Referring to the reduced numbers, Kaur agreed that a lack of funding had negatively affected local communities and workforces.
“When you’re out and about, people say they don’t see enough police (on the streets). The population is increasing, but the workforce hasn’t and there aren’t enough police to go around. I think the recruitment drive is excellent news.”
The 46-year-old initially joined the service after a family friend recommended that she apply for work experience with the police. Kaur spent two weeks working in a policing environment alongside a female officer, who was also of south Asian heritage.
“She had been in the police for a couple of years and that inspired me, as did having an insight into what policing was,” Kaur recalled. “I only had two weeks there, but I thought ‘I could do this’.
Having worked for Thames Valley since 2002, Kaur acknowledged that the job could be challenging. But, despite the difficulties, she thrives in her work and loves the unpredictability of it.
“You will just never know what will come through on the radio,” the Oxfordshire-officer revealed. “I cannot say I’ve ever had two days that are the same.”
Last week, chancellor Sajid Javid also announced that funding would be shared between forces across England and Wales, to support the recruitment of the first wave of officers. This includes an immediate £45 million to kick-start recruitment and £750 million for 2020 to 2021.