THE number of young police officers in Cheshire fell by nearly 70% in just two years, new figures have revealed.
Figures obtained by the Home Office under the Freedom of Information Act showed the number of officers aged 26 or under across the UK had fallen by nearly half.
And in Cheshire, the figures were even worse, as the number of police officers under 26 changed from 93 in 2009-10 to 29 in 2011-12 – a fall of 69%.
The sharp fall means only 1% of officers in the Cheshire force were aged under 26 in 2011, compared to 4% in 2009.
Overall, the number of officers for Cheshire Constabulary fell by 7% in those two years, from 2,185 to 2,042.
The numbers were measured via a headcount rather than the full-time equivalent figure, and includes officers who work part-time.
However, Cheshire Constabulary has said the force has been recruiting new officers, many of them young.
Spokeswoman Constable Shelley Williams said: “Cheshire Constabulary is one of the few police forces nationally to continue to recruit police officers despite reductions in the policing budget over recent years.
“Government data covers the period up to 2011. However, more recently, 36% of the recruits that began training with the constabulary are under 26 years of age.”
The former Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary has stressed it is vital for police officers to be suitably paid for the work they do.
The Association of Chief Police Officers’s lead on workforce development, Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy, was speaking after plans to cut the starting salary for officers by £4,000 to £19,000 were approved last week.
Sir Fahy, now chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, said: “In a service where more than 80% of budget is spent on people, it is more vital than ever we have terms and conditions for all staff that both reward them for what they do and represent value for money.
“Officers can also reach the top rate of pay three years earlier than under the current arrangements.”