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Extra police on the streets for Surrey and Hampshire

Extra police on the streets for Surrey and Hampshire

Published by the Eagle Radio News Team at 12:28pm 9th October 2019. (Updated at 11:45am 10th October 2019)

The Home Secretary has announced that every police force in England and Wales has been set a recruitment target as part of its drive to take on 20,000 new officers.

The move was announced by Priti Patel on Tuesday during a meeting with the National Policing Board, which was set up by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in July to support the government's recruitment drive.

During the first wave of the scheme's roll-out, the Home Office says it will provide £750m to support all 43 forces to employ around 6,000 officers by the end of 2020/21.

Surrey has been allocated 78 in this first wave, and Hampshire 156.

The funding should support all the associated costs of recruitment, including training and kit.

Ms Patel 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 force with the highest target is London's Metropolitan Police, with 1,369, which is 1,000 more than the force with the next highest target, West Midlands Police, with 366.

Surrey's Police and Crime Commissioner has reacted to the announcement by saying it will be "gratefully received and widely used - but he feels Surrey has been "short-changed" by the allocation process.

David Munro expressed disappointment that it was based on the current central government grant system - with Surrey having the lowest percentage grant of any force in the country:

“The addition of 20,000 new officers is a much needed shot in the arm for policing nationwide and Surrey’s share of that uplift will be a welcome boost for our communities.

“However, today’s news has left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, these extra officers are gratefully received and will make a real difference to our residents. But I do feel the allocation process has left Surrey short-changed.

“Using the current grant system as the basis for allocation puts us at an unfair disadvantage. A more equitable distribution would have been on total net revenue budget which would have put Surrey Police on a fair footing with other forces of a similar size.

“In that respect, I am disappointed as we have estimated this would mean around 40 to 60 officers less over the life of the proposed three-year programme. It has been mentioned that the formula for distribution for the remainder of the programme may be reviewed so I will be watching any developments with interest.

“In the last decade the priority has rightly been to protect warranted police officer numbers in Surrey at all costs. This has meant that Surrey Police managed to keep officer numbers steady despite having to make significant savings. However the effect has been that police staff numbers have been reduced disproportionately.

“What we must do now is ensure we use these extra resources wisely and target them at the areas we need to strengthen. We must focus our attention on getting those extra officers recruited, trained and serving the residents of Surrey as soon as possible.”

The 20,000 new recruits are expected to be in addition to those taken on to fill existing vacancies in police forces.

Talking about the meeting with Ms Patel, the Police Federation of England and Wales' national chairman John Apter said: "Yesterday's meeting was constructive and it is important that we, as the largest police staff association, were at the table to ensure our members were represented.

"Investment in policing is long overdue and for the first time we now have the actual number of officers each local force will increase by in the next year.

"These figures have been based on the current funding formula models and while this method is not perfect, I accept it is the only solution available to deliver the numbers quickly in year one.

"We now need to ensure that the formula is revisited for future years to ensure a fairer allocation of officers across all forces, but this is certainly a positive start and will provide a much-needed boost to my members and the communities they serve."

Boris Johnson pledged to invest in police numbers during the Conservative leadership contest.

He launched the drive in September at a talk in West Yorkshire, which was marred in controversy after it was claimed the police officers standing behind Mr Johnson were unaware they would be used as a backdrop in what ended up being a speech about the EU.

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