Get the new of­fi­cers out on the beat

Gloucestershire Echo - - LETTERS & OPINION - Alex Chalk Con­ser­va­tive MP for Chel­tenham

IWARMLY wel­come the Gov­ern­ment’s an­nounce­ment that an ad­di­tional 20,000 po­lice of­fi­cers will be re­cruited in Eng­land and Wales over the next three years.

The re­cruit­ment drive will start as early as Septem­ber with the launch of a na­tional cam­paign.

In Chel­tenham the in­crease will come on top of the ex­tra 74 Glouces­ter­shire of­fi­cers al­ready be­ing funded through this year’s Coun­cil Tax.

Glouces­ter­shire po­lice have been ad­ver­tis­ing their ex­pan­sion for some time at com­mu­nity events like the one I at­tended in Win­ston Churchill Gar­dens.

So how should the ad­di­tional of­fi­cers be de­ployed? I think that’s a no­brainer.

I have long called for more po­lice to be out of their cars and pa­trolling the streets – ei­ther on foot or on bike.

A vis­i­ble uni­formed pres­ence makes a huge dif­fer­ence to the pub­lic’s feel­ing of safety and se­cu­rity.

I know from my own ex­pe­ri­ence how wel­come it is to see PCSO Charafi pa­trolling lower High Street near my of­fice.

Pa­trols act as a de­ter­rent. Those who make oth­ers’ lives a mis­ery, whether it’s ca­reer­ing around Pittville Park on mopeds, deal­ing drugs in King George V play­ing fields or simply mak­ing a racket through the night in Sand­ford Park, need to feel there is a cred­i­ble risk of get­ting caught.

And even with Lans­down po­lice sta­tion’s manned strength of 39 of­fi­cers and PCSOS, the fact is beat of­fi­cers are not as vis­i­ble as we need them to be.

Fund­ing for ad­di­tional po­lice of­fi­cers is pos­si­ble be­cause of our coun­try’s im­prov­ing pub­lic fi­nances. As a nation we’re still not liv­ing within our means – the last time we did that was in 2001 – but bor­row­ing has dropped from around £150 bil­lion a year in 2010 to roughly £25 bil­lion to­day. That has cre­ated head­room for the largest fund­ing in­crease in the NHS’S his­tory, and now this boost for the po­lice.

But it mustn’t just get lost in the sys­tem.

Let’s see those new of­fi­cers out on the beat.

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