Neighbourhood policing ‘is a top priority’ says Northumbria Police, which has seen a falling in officer numbers in the last five years.
The force says it had a total of 3,876 police officers and 419 PCSOs in 2012, which compares to 3,283 officers last year and 164 PCSOs.
Force chiefs say there has been a recruitment drive for new PCSOs at the start of this year which has reduced the drop to around 23%.
It comes as figures from the BBC showed the force has faced a fall in the number of neighbourhood officers and PCSOs, as we reported yesterday.
Now Temporary Assistant Chief Constable of Northumbria Police, Ged Noble, has said: “It is very important to start by saying that 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 over £130 million since 2010.
It is very important to start by saying that neighbourhood policing is a top priority for Northumbria Police and we are committed to providing an outstanding service to our communities.Temporary Assistant Chief Constable of Northumbria Police Ged Noble
“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.
“The force has continually looked at ways to make savings while protecting front-line officers, including using the force financial reserves and rationalising our estate but ultimately, as with other police forces, we have had to reduce police officer and police staff numbers.
“In fact, the cuts have been so steep and so deep that we have had to use a large part of those reserves to fund day to day policing – just to keep officers on the beat.
“If reserves had not been used, we would have had to let hundreds more police officers go and, as a result, our reserves are now at the lowest they have ever been.
“Despite these challenges we have confronted the emerging crime trends including sexual exploitation, cyber-crime, modern day slavery and the terrorist threat. “We have also continued our focus on violent crime, sexual violence, domestic abuse, anti-social behaviour and other crimes that cause the greatest harm to individual victims and communities.
“Through investment in technology we have been able to better manage demand and make sure our officers are still highly visible and able to deal with the many issues that matter to our communities.
“There has been much-debate and understandable concern about the reported rise in recorded crime. Locally, the majority of the increases are due to better recording practices, however we understand and acknowledge there has been actual increases in some offences. Despite our ongoing resourcing pressures we remain absolutely committed to cutting crime and protecting the public.
“Northumbria Police has recruited 29 new PCSO during January 2018 and in recent months 95 student police officers have passed their training and taken to the streets.
“This recruitment process will continue during the year and we remain determined to do all we can to deliver an outstanding policing service despite the significant financial challenges.
“Northumbria remains one of the safest places in the county and we determined to do all we can to deliver an outstanding policing service despite the significant financial challenges.”