THERE will be more than 200 extra officers on the streets of Hampshire and Dorset as part of the government’s three-year campaign to boost police numbers.
Revealed on Wednesday by the Home Office, it was announced that Hampshire would receive an extra 156 positions and Dorset 50 in the first 12 months of the initiative which will see an additional 20,000 beat cops nationwide.
The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, set out her vision for policing when she chaired the second meeting of the National Policing Board, involving representatives of frontline officers and police leaders.
She said: “The public are clear they want to see more police officers on their streets, whether they live in the city or the countryside. This is the people’s priority and it is exactly what the government is delivering.”
The new officers will be in addition to those hired to fill existing vacancies as well as numbers being recruited as part of a £1bn increase in police funding for 2019-20.
Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner Michael Lane said was delighted with his county’s share.
“This is a very welcome commitment by government and will keep our communities safer. And I thank the Prime Minister and the Home Office team for acting swiftly to begin restoring the necessary funding for policing. But it must be seen as but the latest step, with more to come.
“In April I was able to approve an increase in recruiting this year that has already begun and will deliver 210 additional officers to our local front line in this financial year.”
He added: “With today’s announcement, there is now a combined commitment of 366 additional officers. And the government has promised more to come in their three-year commitment nationally to raise numbers by 20,000.”
Martyn Underhill, the PCC for Dorset, cautiously welcomed the announcement: “Of course, I would always welcome new officers, and I thank the Home Office for this investment, as well as our local MPs for the support they have shown myself and Dorset Police,” he said.
“However, this announcement only covers the first year of recruitment and in order to avoid any uncertainty and enable myself and the chief constable to properly plan for the future, I would like to hear official confirmation of targets for the second and third years as early as possible.
“It’s important to stress that while this investment is long overdue, it will not reverse the damage which has been inflicted by eight years of austerity.
“Even if we saw similar recruitment targets over the next three years, it will not bring us back to the officer levels we saw before the cuts, or address the police staff also lost during this time.”
He added: “Dorset Police now has the lowest officer levels since 1981 and we may need to see a much more significant recruitment drive in order to take us back to pre-austerity levels.”