Police numbers; more honesty needed on funding – The Yorkshire Post says

THIS newspaper advised Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, earlier this year to be more transparent over policy numbers and they appear to have taken this on board following a visit to North Yorkshire.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tries out a North Yorkshire Police Rural Taskforce bike which is a Zero FX an Electric Bike during a visit to North Yorkshire Police headquarters, Northallerton.

Police forces, they reported, have hired 4,336 officers in the past eight months and the Government remains on track to recruit 20,000 policemen and women – one of the Government’s defining targets.

Yet words matter. These are not ‘new’ officers. They merely replace roles that were axed when the Tories first came to power in 2010 and even the most diehard Conservatives now accept that these cuts went too far.

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And the Government’s commitment to the 20,000 target shouldn’t gloss over the scale of the financial crisis facing police forces – one that has been compounded by the demands of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel using antiseptic hand gel during a visit to North Yorkshire Police headquarters, Northallerton. In the background is Julia Mulligan, the North Yorkshire crime commissioner.

It has already seen forces, like West Yorkshire, begin to formulate plans to deal with an unprecedented deficit of up to £40m – one that could see hundreds of non-uniform staff lose their jobs to balance the books.

Much will, therefore, rest on the Comprehensive Spending Review and the strength of the Government’s desire to support the police beyond the headline ‘target’ that Mr Johnson, and Ms Patel, have set themselves.

After all, many of the roles now said to be at risk are also integral to the wider work of front line police officers – cyber-crime experts and forensic teams being prime examples – and Ministers will need to address this point by the time that they provide their next quarterly update on their recruitment drive.

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

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James Mitchinson