Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Number of Beat Officers Takes a Hit

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Number of Beat Officers Takes a Hit

Article excerpt

Byline: Sophie Doughty Crime Reporter sophie.doughty@ncjmedia.co.uk

THE number of local bobbies on the beat is falling.

The latest figures reveal that the number of neighbourhood officers employed by police forces in the North East has been falling over the last five years, despite previous vows by police chiefs that they would continue to 'protect the front line' when faced with Government funding cuts.

However, forces have today argued that the changing nature of the crimes they are tackling means more of their dwindling budgets are now being spent on the detectives needed to investigate and prevent complex offences such as sex exploitation and human trafficking. Northumbria Police has seen its overall officer numbers fall from 3920 in 2012 to 3288 in 2017, a drop of just over 16%. The number of neighbourhood police officers and PCSOs (police community support officers) has fallen by more than 36% in the same period, from 1006 in 2012 to just over 642. Durham Constabulary has seen its total number of officers go down from 1363 in 2012 to 1144 in 2017, again a fall of just over 16%. However neighbourhood bobbies and PCSOs fell by more than 38%, from 309 in 2012 to 271 in 2017.

Gary Ridley, Assistant Chief Officer at Durham Constabulary, said: "Officer numbers in Durham Constabulary have fallen as a result of Government austerity. However, we expect the figures to be stable for the next two to three years."

And Temporary Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) of Northumbria Police Ged Noble said the force had done everything it could to keep bobbies on the beat.

He said: "Neighbourhood policing is a top priority for Northumbria Police and we are committed to providing an outstanding service to our communities.

"The Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable have previously highlighted the huge budget cuts the force has faced. They are the biggest of any in the country, at more than PS130m since 2010.

"Both the Chief Constable and the Commissioner have worked hard to protect front-line Neighbourhood Policing Teams who are visible, located where they are needed and provide the community-led policing approach that is the backbone of our service and much valued by the communities we serve. …

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