Officer numbers could be set to increase at North Yorkshire Police over the next two years as part of new investment plans for the force.
North Yorkshire Police is to launch a two-year recruitment drive designed to boost officer numbers to 1,400. In addition, it also aims to increase numbers of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) to 200 from 183.
However, Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire has warned that the plans rely on the results of the government's review of the funding formula.
The recruitment drive represents a significant increase from current police officer levels of 1,343, which have been reduced from the budgeted number of 1,392 in response to recommendations from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Policing (HMIC) and strong indications of further cuts of between 20-40 per cent from Government.
Indeed, cuts on such a scale could have made it necessary for numbers to fall still further – to 1,298 by the end of 2016/17.
But, in his Comprehensive Spending Review at the end of last year, Chancellor George Osborne surprised police forces across the country by maintaining the overall budget for policing.
Since then, the force has learned more about both national plans for police funding and its own financial position.
“Our fortunes have significantly improved – shortly before Christmas it would have been necessary to reduce our resources quite considerably over the next few years. I am very pleased to say that we’re now in a completely different position, where we can boost police officer and PCSO numbers.” said Ms Mulligan.
“However, this does not mean we will hold off the efficiency plans we have in place. The taxpayers of North Yorkshire would expect nothing less and we will continue to work towards delivering major savings by working more effectively. This is still very much the right thing to do, as the consequence is our ability to invest in frontline services, just as we are announcing today.
“There remains one caveat to the good news – we await the results of the government’s review of the funding formula. Should this change significantly, then we will review our position accordingly.
“Our priorities are set out in the police and crime plan, which has been shaped by the public. The increase in officer and PCSO numbers means we are in a stronger position to deliver our goals – protecting vulnerable people; cutting crime and anti-social behaviour and providing a better service to victims of crime.”
Chief Constable Dave Jones said: “This time last year we believed that the police service would be facing yet more budget cuts, and that some very tough decisions would have to be made about the size of the service.
"As it has turned out, the financial picture is much better than anyone could have predicted, and the Commissioner’s announcement today is very positive and encouraging news for North Yorkshire Police.
"We have had plans in preparation for a while to boost the level of resources we devote to supporting the most vulnerable people in our society, rural policing and road safety. Now we can get on with delivering those plans, and putting more resource into the areas of greatest risk, without having to reduce our capacity in other areas of the service.”