JUST two in five recently hired police officers in West Mercia are female, according to new figures.

As part of a 2019 election manifesto pledge, the Government promised an uplift of 20,000 new police officers by March 2023 – alongside a campaign to improve gender and ethnic diversity in the force.

Data from the Home Office shows that female recruits made up just 40 per cent of the 390 police officers hired by West Mercia Police between April 2020 – when gender breakdowns of new officers were first recorded nationally – and March this year.

This is lower than across England and Wales as a whole, where 42 per cent of new police recruits were female.

The ratio of female to male police officers at West Mercia Police has risen from 32% in March 2019 to 35% this year, but critics argue the uplift has not gone far enough to make police forces representative of their communities.

The figures are a headcount of the number of people hired – female officers are also more likely to work part-time, meaning that the number of female police officers on the streets is likely to be lower than these numbers suggest.

Separate snapshot data from the Government’s Gender Pay Gap Service shows that across all jobs at West Mercia Police, women were earning 19% less than their male counterparts as of March 31 2021 – the latest figures available.

Rick Muir, director of the Police Foundation, a policing think tank, said: "The number of female police officers has gradually been increasing over the past two decades, but there's still a long way to go."

Speaking about the uplift, he said the Government has focused on "quantity over composition" in order to hit its manifesto target – not giving enough focus on the diversity of new recruits to the police force.

A spokesperson for the Home Office called it a "once in a generation opportunity to make the police more representative of the community they serve".

They continued: “The police officer workforce is more diverse than it has ever been. However, we are aware that there is more work to be done, which is why the Government continues to work closely with police forces to ensure their workforces are representative.”