Warwickshire Police faces a hefty fine if it fails to have 1,100 officers in position by the end of March which has prompted a strategy of looking ‘outside the box’ according to the county’s police and crime commissioner.
Phillip Seccombe admitted he was having weekly updates from the chief constable regarding recruitment adding that there were many variables that could knock them off target.
Speaking at Warwickshire County Council’s police and crime panel last week , he also said that the need for a degree might be putting off potential recruits.
Mr Seccombe said: “It is going to be quite tight to hit the 1,100 officers by March.
"Recruiting is as difficult as it is in local authorities for example so there are vacancies for staff and officers.
“I am discussing this every week with the chief constable.
"At the moment we are on course that by the end of March we will have 1,124 officers and we need to get to 1,100 to avoid any financial penalty.
"If we get to 1,110 then we will get a bit more funding to recruit those extra officers.
“We have a cushion but that could change by people deciding not to attend a course.
"I am pushing the force to make sure that the courses are full because they are not cheap to put on.
"I am also looking for transferees - officers from other forces who would like to transfer into Warwickshire and we have far more of those than those who want to leave and go somewhere else.
"We are the smallest force so there is always a good demand for people wanting to transfer into Warwickshire.
“There are huge penalties - hundreds of thousands of pounds - if we don't hit 1,100 so we are thinking outside the box.
"It is really important to us and top of our risk register.
“For the record I don’t think everyone joining the police should need a degree.
"I think there should be other methods of entry and have always cited someone who comes out of the Services aged 29 or 30.
"They don’t want to go and do a degree at that sort of age, they want to get involved in practical policing.
“I’m not against the degree but personally I don’t think it should be compulsory and I think that has had some effect on our ability to recruit.”
Mr Seccombe has also admitted that the break-up of the alliance between West Mercia and Warwickshire Police has been a factor in a below-par HMICFRS inspection.
Three areas of police work were deemed to require improvement - investigating crime, responding to the public and managing offenders - with five others rated adequate. None were categorised as outstanding, good or inadequate.