A NEW batch of 66 police officers have been recruited to Lancashire Police – but the county’s PCC says that residents deserve more and is demanding Lancashire's 'fair share' of officers.
Last summer, the government announced the first investment into policing for almost 10 years, pledging 20,000 new police officers on the beat to replace some of the 21,000 lost through austerity.
Lancashire, along with many other northern forces, has been one of the hardest hit, losing 750 police officers since 2010 as a consequence of having to make savings of over £86m.
Lancashire Police have today been praised by Home Secretary Priti Patel for exceeding their March 2020 recruitment target and hiring 66 police officers through a variety of new routes out of the 153 officers allocated by Government.
PCC Clive Grunshaw said: "66 new police officers is obviously good news for Lancashire's communities who want more police officers to keep them safe and help them feel safe.
"The force has worked hard under difficult circumstances and exceeded the recruitment target set by Government. We continue to be ambitious with our recruitment plans, seeking to recruit the best applicants to reflect and serve our communities, but we need some reassurance that this first wave is just the beginning as we hope to be recruiting again soon.
"However, given the current circumstances in which we find ourselves, £84m allocated to the uplift programme nationally has been diverted to tackle the coronavirus.
"Whilst this is understandable, we need absolute clarity from the Home Office that forces will get this money back and that Government will still deliver the full £168m costs of uplift in 2020/21."
Lancashire bid for 340 officers in the first allocation of funding to allow the force to properly invest back into the policing in Lancashire but were given just 153.
Subsequent year's allocations of officers are rumoured to be going to the National Crime Agency and Counter Terrorism to support national policing efforts rather than local forces.
PCC Grunshaw continued: "The Government must reaffirm their commitment to recruiting all 20,000 officers and importantly tell people where they are going.
"We made a strong case around the fairest way to allocate funding by putting officers back where they have been lost and are needed most and I have previously called on the Prime Minister to match Lancashire’s ambition to recruit the 750 police officers lost since 2010. My message is simple, we want our Bobbies back.
"However forces like Lancashire have been snubbed by the Government whilst more affluent areas such as Surrey, who have lost only eight officers since 2010, have been gifted 70 officers in the first allocation – more than when austerity in policing began.
"We still need proper assurances about how policing will be funded in the long term. Police funding cannot keep coming at the expense of hard working Lancashire council tax payers.
"I will continue to stand up for Lancashire to ensure we receive a fair funding settlement and our police officers back from where they’ve been taken."