Police officer numbers drop in past year - but crime has increased
PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 August 2018
Police officer numbers have dropped in the past year – while crime levels are rising in North Somerset.
Figures from the Home Office show in March, there were the equivalent of 2,597 full-time officers in Avon and Somerset, a drop of 70 compared to March 2017.
The figures also show less time was being spent on frontline policing – 2,319 officers were available for frontline duties in March this year, down 130 from 2017.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said an increase in payments by taxpayers should be able to fund more officers going forward.
There were 12,473 crimes recorded in North Somerset in 2010 compared with figures for the latest 12-month period of 14,582 – a 17 per cent hike.
Recorded crime was up by one per cent while violent crime saw a four per cent increase.
Following a £1 monthly rise in the policing part of the council tax in April, the constabulary aims to employ up to 300 police officers this year.
The total police staff in Avon and Somerset, including police community support officers (PCSOs) and administrative staff, increased by 13 per cent over the past year.
PCSOs have fewer powers than police officers, but are more involved in community initiatives and more are being recruited this summer.
Ms Mountstevens said it is ‘no surprise’ to see the figures confirm fewer officers are working for the force.
She said: “Thanks to local people, Avon and Somerset have been able to re-start an ambitious recruitment programme for police officers. I am currently speaking to people about continuing with the £1 rise next year so we can sustain officer and PCSOs numbers at this increased level going forward.
“It’s no surprise to people there are fewer police officers on our streets, we’ve made nearly £80million of savings in the past eight years and this means there are 655 less officers.
“The challenge for me is to sustain the recruitment of officers within the current funding we receive and sadly I need local people’s support to do this as there is not enough money from central Government to protect policing.”
Across the force’s area, figures published by The Office of National Statistics noted a total of 137,455 crime incidents were reported for the year ending March 2018.