Extra 100 officers on the beat in Lancashire
Lancashire Police has gained more than 100 extra frontline officers in the last three years, as it seeks to tackle increased levels of violent crime.
Figures from the Home Office show that 170 officers, in roles categorised as ‘visible operational front line’, have been added to the force between March 2015 and this year – an increase of 10 per cent.
But at the same time the number of officers involved in ‘non-visible front line’ roles such as intelligence gathering has fallen by 200.
The county’s police and crime commissioner has pointed out that the frontline increase comes against a background of a decrease in the total number of officers in the county.
Lancashire has lost around 800 officer posts and 350 civilian staff roles since 2010.
Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner said: “Police officer numbers have to be seen in context.
“Since 2010 we have had to make savings of £84 million from our annual budget which has seen Lancashire lose around 800 officer posts and over 350 staff roles at the same time demands are rising on the service with 999 and non-emergency calls 5 per cent higher than last year.
“This highlights a change in the roles that officers are carrying out, not an increase in the number of officers that the Constabulary has available.
“With no extra money available from the Government to meet this demand we expect to have to make a further £18m of savings a year over the next four years.
“Whilst our resources are being limited by Government, this highlights that wherever possible we look to move resources into frontline policing which is what the people of Lancashire tell me they want to see and is a key priority in my Police and Crime Plan.
“I know our officers work tirelessly to keep communities safe in often very difficult circumstances.
“It’s time for the Government to realise the pressure on the service and ensure we have the resources we need to keep people safe across the county.”
The force faces rising violent crime in Lancashire. In the 12 months to March this year, 41,408 violent crimes were recorded, 96 per cent more than in 2015.
The Office for National Statistics says that some of the increase may be as a result of better recording of crimes.
In total, there were 1,825 officers in visible front line roles this March.
They include 278 neighbourhood officers, who are posted in the community to gather intelligence and provide help at the scene of crimes, and 1,190 incident response officers.
Across England and Wales, more than 7,000 visible front line officers have been lost over the last three years, or 11 per cent.
The Home Office includes a number of other roles as ‘non-visible front line’, such as those involved intelligence gathering operations.
These dropped in number in the Lancashire Constabulary, from 847 in 2015 to 683 this year.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: “Forces are changing how they deliver local policing to reflect the priorities of local people and so that they can respond better to the changing nature of crime.
“They recognise effective community engagement is more than just having a visible police presence. Prevention, partnership working, problem-solving and safeguarding the vulnerable remain key.
“Decisions about front line policing, and how resources are best deployed, are for Chief Constables and democratically accountable Police and Crime Commissioners. Most have already set out plans to either protect or increase front line policing this year.
“Last year, the Minister for Policing and the Fire Service spoke to every force about the changing demand they face and we are helping with a £460m increase in overall funding 2018/19, including increased funding to tackle counter-terrorism and increased funding for local policing through council tax precept.”
Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter, said: “Since 2010, we have lost more than 21,000 police officers with 80 per cent of those being taken from the front line.
“Neighbourhood officers represent the backbone of policing in this country – local officers who are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the service, providing a reassuring presence on the streets helping to detect and prevent crimes. As we lose neighbourhood officers we lose the vital investigative and intelligence-gathering roles they perform in our communities.
“The Government has to acknowledge that as violent crime increases, and with the ever-present threat of terrorism, the cuts to the service are coming home to roost.”