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Police recruits fall short of 4400 target by Admin

SOUTH Australia Police looks likely to fall short of its 4400 target by June, 2010, Commissioner Mal Hyde admits.

The global financial crisis has hit the force`s famed UK recruitment drive, forcing British recruits to cancel as they wait longer for their houses to sell, Mr Hyde said.

Others have simply cancelled because of the changing circumstances.

"I cannot give you an ironclad guarantee that we will reach (our target)," Mr Hyde told Parliament`s Budget and Finance Committee.

"All we can do is give you an assurance that we will be trying to reach it."

Mr Hyde last year told the Committee the force needed to reach 4300 by June this year if it was to reach the State Government`s target of 4400 officers by next year.

However, while the existing 4244 sworn officers falls short of the target, Mr Hyde said the current 185 trainees in the academy showed "we can recruit, but we have difficulty in getting them precisely when we want them".

Police Minister Michael Wright said he did not accept the Commissioner`s prognosis for police numbers.

"We have the most ambitious recruiting strategy in the State`s history and we`re confident we will reach our 2010 target of 4400 sworn police," he said in a written statement. "The facts are South Australia currently has more operational police than ever before . . . Since coming to office, we have recruited over 500 extra police."

But Police Association president Mark Carroll said police recruitment techniques should be reviewed in light of the "likely" shortfall.

"If a substantial shortfall in numbers does eventuate, then there will certainly be a need to review SAPOL recruitment policy, particularly in light of the four years SAPOL has had to meet the government`s commitment," he said.

"A strong focus should apply to local recruitment – particularly of young people – in conjunction with UK recruiting, which the association has supported, as those officers bring a wealth of police experience to South Australia."

Opposition police spokesman David Ridgway said the force should renew its focus on local recruitment. "If it looks like we are going to reach 8 per cent unemployment, why would you be giving it (police employment) to overseas people when we have quality people (here in South Australia)?

"I am (in favour) of getting young people into the police force before other countries, but you may have to recruit UK people with a little experience."

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