MINISTERS must increase police forces’ budgets if they want to recruit 20,000 more officers, Wiltshire’s police and crime commissioner has said.
One of Boris Johnson’s first announcements as prime minister was a promise to boost the number of officers on Britain’s streets.
But while the decision has been welcomed by senior leaders at Wiltshire Police, the county’s police commissioner issued a warning to Whitehall.
Angus Macpherson told the Adver: “I would welcome more officers and staff but need more money from central government to pay for their salaries.
“The powers that be cannot expect us to keep paying for more resources with money we don't have.
“I am constantly lobbying Westminster for more funding for our force. We are one of the least funded constabularies in the country but are expected to do the same as larger, more urban services.”
The extra 20,000 officers will be recruited over the next three years, with a new national policing board established to hold senior officer to account for meeting the target and tackling high-profile issues like rises in violent crime.
Priti Patel, the new home secretary, said the rise in officer numbers would help address a rise in serious violence: “An additional 20,000 officers sends a clear message that we are committed to giving police the resources they need to tackle the scourge of crime.”
The officer pledge was welcomed by Wiltshire’s Chief Constable Kier Pritchard. “An influx of new officers would allow us to further develop our model to become more preventative in our policing approach,” he said.
“We would look to attract the very best talent which is representative of all of the communities we serve.”
The numbers boost could potentially replace the 200 officers Wiltshire Police has lost from its headcount since 2010 under government austerity programmes.
Insp Mark Andrews, chairman of the Wiltshire Police Federation, said: “The fact it is finally being recognised that the cuts have went too deep is welcome news.”
He said he had concerns over how the force would train and equip the additional officers.
Insp Andrews added: "The past decade has been a hard slog for policing. Nobody can blame us for being cynical with such promises being made by the very government that has ripped the soul from the job. However, I genuinely feel there’s now a more positive tone coming from government."