Hundreds of extra police officers recruited in Yorkshire in nearly 18 months – but "long-term" funding strategy is still needed

More than 700 extra police officers have been recruited in Yorkshire and the Humber in under 18 months, according to Home Office figures.

The news is part of a major recruitment campaign by the Government for 20,000 extra police officers by 2023, although this has previously been criticised as simply 'replenishing' numbers of officers cut from the forces through austerity measures.

Figures for the four Yorkshire police forces released by the Home Office today (Thursday) show there were 709 officers recruited since the start of the campaign in September 2019, while a further £20m has been made available to forces across the country for tackling neighbourhood crime such as burglaries, robberies and vehicle crime.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Many of the newly-recruited officers will be tasked with enforcing current coronavirus restrictions as the UK's death toll this week reached the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths.

Police officer pictured in Roundhay Park, Leeds, during the coronavirus lockdown

The extra £20m will be made available to local authorities and Police and Crime Commissioners across the country through the Safer Streets fund launched last year, and will be used to fund security systems, CCTV installation and increased street lighting in the worst areas impacted by crime.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Keeping our streets is my absolute priority and many of these new officers in Yorkshire and the Humber are already on our streets helping to fight the coronavirus pandemic, and for that they get my huge thanks.

“These new officers, on top of further funding to tackle crimes such as burglary, robbery and vehicle crime will ensure the police have the powers, tools and resources they need to cut crime and make you feel safer in your community.”

However, police federation chiefs in the region said that whilst extra officers were always welcome, northern police forces would always be disadvantaged when it came to funding.

Police officer pictured in Harrogate town centre following the re-opening of businesses following the first coronavirus lockdown in 2020

Steve Kent, Chair of South Yorkshire Police Federation, said the Home Office announcement may look like "bold headlines", but that "when you break the figures down, the effect is not as big as it would seem".

"In some respects, we are some of the poorest-funded police forces in the country," he said.

"These 20,000 extra officers are only repairing the damage that was done [through austerity measures], but they are more boots on the ground which is certainly a positive thing.

Mr Kent said he was concerned about police budgets from central funding being squeezed, which meant local authorities would have to raise council taxes to compensate forces.

South Yorkshire Police Federation Chair Steve Kent says a "long-term" funding strategy is needed

"We need a long term strategy," he added.

Brian Booth, Chair of West Yorkshire Police Federation, said that since July 2020, the force had recruited 443 officers.

"This is fantastic news, although it is important to point out that these are not 443 officers straight onto the front line," he said.

"Beginners need 12 months training before getting to the basic level of going out and policing on their own.

"The population has grown massively in West Yorkshire in the past decade, and we are busier than ever."