Officials working on Boris Johnson’s pledge to recruit 20,000 new police officers in England and Wales within three years say more than 50,000 will actually be needed.
Home Office and police officials say the target is not high enough because so many are set to leave the service. It comes as campaigners say officers need a starting salary of £24,000 or more for the original target to be met.
The Home Office said forces had been recruiting “at pace”.
Reversing cuts to police officer numbers was one of Mr Johnson’s first policy pledges when he became prime minister in July last year.
But those leading the recruitment drive now say the total needed is much bigger because they have to factor in police officers who will be resigning or retiring from the service.
Current figures show that only one in 10 candidates who applies to join the police is successful – meaning half a million would have to apply to reach the 53,000 goal.
The figure has been reached by the Uplift team responsible for recruitment. It includes Home Office officials alongside representatives from the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council. Forces in England and Wales lost 20,564 officers between March 2010 and March 2019, Home Office figures show.