More than 1,400 desperate job hunters have applied for just 14 jobs at a cash-strapped police force – highlighting the employment crisis sweeping Britain.
Staffordshire Police have been deluged with prospective candidates after they announced they were recruiting 14 bobbies for the first time in three years.
Staff have sent out a staggering 1,466 application packs to people who replied to the force’s advert for roles.
It means there are more than 100 people chasing each vacancy which comes with a starting salary of just over £23,500.
Chief Constable Mike Cunningham – who has previously called for funding for new recruits – said he was pleased, but not surprised, by the level of interest.
He said: “We were definitely expecting a lot of interest in these jobs.
“The police service has always been seen as a good career and a vocation, especially among those who want to make a positive difference in their communities.
“The state of the economy has obviously played a part in generating this response, but even in times of plenty we get a lot of people applying to join the police.
“Having 100 applicants applying for each vacancy means we will be able to find the very best people for these jobs.
“Unfortunately that will mean some will be disappointed.”
The selection process for the new recruits is likely to take another two months.
A new PC earns £23,259-a-year on appointment, rising to £27,471 after two years in the job. A recruitment freeze was imposed in February 2010, as the force looked to save £38 million by 2015.
Staffordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis, who was elected last year, ended the recruitment freeze and the forced retirement of officers with 30 years’ service.
The decisions mean Staffordshire Police have 50 more officers than they would have otherwise had by this time next year.
But the overall number is still expected to fall from 1,814 to 1,786 due to officers leaving and retiring.
The number of PCSOs is set to remain at 209, while police staff numbers are expected to fall from 1,153 to 1,135.
Staffordshire Police Federation chairman Andy Adams said: “I think policing is still a career people are interested in. We’ve had a list of people asking when the police will start recruiting again.
“I am really pleased that we’ve had such a good response to these new vacancies. I would like to see the overall number of officers to stay the same, rather than fall.
“The amount of crime doesn’t fall, and so it means there is more work for those officers we do have.”