Lancashire 'on track' for over 500 new police officers by next spring amid claim that the county is "going backwards"
Lancashire will have recruited more than 500 new police officers by next spring, the county’s police and crime commissioner has insisted.
Andrew Snowden was speaking after the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Lancashire County Council pointed to the latest Home Officers figures tracking progress in a nationwide programme, launched three years ago, which intends to boost officer numbers by 20,000 by the end of March 2023 – and claimed that Lancashire was actually “going backwards”.
John Potter said that the county force had so far welcomed 270 new officers to its ranks – meaning that it would have to employ a further 27 each month for the next nine months if it is to hit its target to recruit 509 of them as part of the government’s “uplift” scheme.
Separately, Mr. Snowden has also pledged to use local funding to bring the total number of new-joiners to 612.
Cllr Potter warned that the scale of just the uplift challenge meant that the aim was not going to be achieved. He also said that the statistics showed Lancashire Police had in fact lost 44 officers between March and June – just as crime was rising up the list of local priorities.
“We’re seeing it at street level – a rise in antisocial behaviour, but people [thinking] what’s the point in calling if the police don’t show up or they show up hours late.
“Right now, more than ever, people need a bit more reassurance. Liberal Democrats are calling for a return to proper community policing, where officers are visible, trusted and known personally to local people,” said Cllr Potter, who claimed that Lancashire residents were being “let down and taken for granted by this Conservative government”.
However, Andrew Snowden rubbished the Lib Dem analysis of the local situation – saying that the figures were a reflection of when windows for recruitment were open and the natural turnover of staff in a large organisation like Lancashire Constabulary.
“The nature of policing is that numbers fluctuate during the year due to normal factors such as retirement. However, we remain on an upward trajectory and will meet the 509 target set in the uplift programme with hundreds more officers joining the ranks through different pre-planned recruitment tranches throughout the year.
“In addition to this, I’m pleased to say that Lancashire is also recruiting further 103 officers, funded by an increase in council tax precept, taking the total number of new officers to 612.
“I’m also proud to see Lancashire taking the number one spot for the whole of England for increasing the proportion of female officers joining the force through the government’s uplift programme – 54 percent of officers the force has taken on since March 2020 are female, more than any other force in the country.
“The Constabulary is doing a fantastic job in recruiting quality candidates to join the force and leading the way in recruiting a more diverse workforce that represents the communities it serves.
“I regularly join the attestation ceremonies for new recruits and it’s always a pleasure to meet them, to see the enthusiasm they bring to their roles and to be able to reassure the public that the force is growing.
“These additional officers will make a real difference, helping us to crack down on crime and deliver on the priorities that the people of Lancashire have told me matter most to them.
“I will work closely with the chief constable to ensure the additional resources coming into Lancashire Constabulary are best used to keep the people safe and I will also continue to work constructively with government on any additional investment into policing in the county,” the Conservative commissioner added.
The 20,000 officers being taken on nationwide as part of the uplift programme will replace the same number which have been cut over the last decade.