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Gloucestershire Business News

Full frontline police officers just half of Gloucestershire new recruits

Only half of Gloucestershire's promised 300 new police recruits will be full frontline police officers.

The increase in staffing was the cornerstone of Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Nelson's election campaign back in May. He said he would recruit 300 new officers deployed on 'local priorities'.

He promised as the top pledge in his manifesto that 'with extra help from Government and focusing local resources on the frontline, we will put more Police Officers, Specials and PCSOs on our streets'.

But today, as he lays out the results of a major review of policing in the county, it's revealed that only 150 new police officers will be recruited over a three-year period. There will also be an additional 50 PCSOs.

A further 103 recruits will be backroom staff supporting frontline operations.

They will be assisted by 150 unpaid Special Constables and volunteer PCSOs.

The new backroom recruits include six Customer Care staff, 30 call handlers and 16 police staff investigators. A further three staff will be employed on 'digital engagement' and three as case workers looking at professional standards.

It's claimed the extra 300 paid staff are equivalent to a 26% increase in policing strength.

Today's announcement is the culmination of a detailed review of the police budget, which began on Mr. Nelson's first day in office.

It follows a series of meetings with Chief Officers to balance what the Constabulary can afford, what is needed to improve service and to deliver on manifesto pledges that form the basis of the PCC's Police and Crime Plan, which is currently being finalised.

Of the 150 new police officers, 50 will be paid for by the Constabulary, another 100 are due to be recruited and trained as part of the Government funded uplift programme.

The PCC is also creating a new role as volunteer PCSO, in addition to its regular Special Constables. There will be a total of 150 divided between the two roles. These will be funded by the Constabulary.

The 103 call handlers, investigators and other staff, are aimed at improving the service for victims of crime in support of the uniformed officers.

In a statement, the PCC's office said: "This investment in staff is all about providing a better service to the public, with a more comprehensive focus on the care of victims, leading to a faster and more effective response when dealing with crime."

Other proposals include a massive expansion of Neighbourhood Watch and the free public messaging system Your Community Alerts, which allows residents, businesses, and community groups to get in touch with each other and receive up to date information from the Police.

Young people will also be encouraged to get involved in groups like Police Cadets, Police Cubs and Mini Police through the Citizens in Policing movement, in which volunteers give up their time to support policing in their communities.

Chris Nelson, PCC, said: "This is a landmark day in my mission to make Gloucestershire the safest place in the country.

"The public told me what they want - to see more police in their neighbourhood, less anti-social behaviour on their streets and a quicker response when they call the police, and it was my election promise to ensure all that happens on their behalf.

"It has taken a lot of hard work by many people in both the Constabulary and my office to find the budget to provide the resources. This level of extra resources should have a transformational impact and it is now up to the police to produce the results the public are entitled to expect."

Chief Constable Rod Hansen said: "I welcome this announcement and the flexibility it gives us to help make Gloucestershire an even safer place to live.

"For a number of months, we have been working on how best we can deliver the PCC's manifesto pledges and tackle some long-standing organisational challenges, and I would like to thank everyone involved.

"This proposed growth will not only enable us to strengthen the frontline with more deployable staff but will also help relieve pressures in a number of areas, including the Force Control Room - allowing us to respond to requests for help more quickly and effectively and, improve our ability to record crime and investigate it in a more timely and thorough way.

"Our mission is to keep people safe from harm and our ambition with this mix of police officers, PCSOs, police staff, the Special Constabulary and our other volunteers is to manage demand more effectively and increase visibility in our communities."

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