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Boris Johnson has begun a drive to recruit more teachers, police and NHS staff – highlighting the “heroic efforts” of public sector workers during the coronavirus crisis.

His call comes ahead of the release of new figures for police in England and Wales, and teacher numbers in England.

Almost 900,000 public sector workers are to get an above-inflation pay rise.

But Labour has accused the Tories of letting down the public sector and cutting services “to the bone”.

The new figures could provide an update on the government’s pledge to recruit 20,000 more police officers over the next three years.

Critics of the target have pointed out that the extra recruitment would do no more than return officer numbers to 2010 levels.

‘Spirit of public duty’

Speaking ahead of the release of the figures, Mr Johnson praised public sector workers as embodying “the spirit of public duty that every one of us can aspire towards”.

“The fantastic teachers, police officers and NHS workers truly are the pride of the nation,” he added.

Under the pay deal unveiled earlier this month, public workers will receive increases of up to 3.1% from existing departmental budgets.

But Labour say the Conservatives had frozen public sector pay for seven years, and the rises they introduced after that failed to plug the gap.

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The most recent figures for police officer numbers in England and Wales, from April, show around 3,000 extra officers from the 20,000 pledge have been recruited so far.

Forces in England and Wales lost 20,564 officers between March 2010 and March 2019, Home Office figures show.

Meanwhile, the government has also announced plans to hire 1,000 more probation officers in England and Wales by the end of the year, with 800 having started training.

The supervision of all offenders on probation in England and Wales is being put back in the public sector after a series of failings with the part-privatisation of the system.

‘Let down’

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said the PM needed to recruit more public sector workers “because Conservative governments have cut our public services to the bone”.

“It feels pretty rich for the prime minister to talk of valuing the public sector when the Covid-19 crisis has shown just how starkly his government has let down our NHS and social care workers,” she added.

More than 300 NHS workers have died in England alone after contracting coronavirus, many doing so while caring for patients.

The prime minister’s comments came as NHS bosses were promising there would be more flexible working, a focus on staff morale and progress on ethnic minority representation in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Under plans being unveiled by Health Secretary Matt Hancock later, former staff will also be urged to return to the NHS as part of a new recruitment drive, following the example of medics who supported the service during the outbreak.

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