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"They have cut too far" - police welcome pledge of 20,000 new officers

PUBLISHED: 06:45 02 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:15 02 August 2019

Norfolk chief constable Simon Bailey. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Norfolk chief constable Simon Bailey. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

Norfolk's chief constable has cautiously welcomed a fresh recruitment drive for police officers but said "we do not know where the money is coming from".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week the rolling recruitment of 20,000 new officers over the next three years.

It would replace those cut through austerity since 2010.

And Chief Constable Simon Bailey said today: "Austerity has been tough".

"I have been a chief constable through nothing but austerity, overseeing a reduction of more than £34m in our budget and a reduction in police officer and staff numbers," he said.

"That has been incredibly difficult. It has been tough.

"I welcome the announcement and I look forward to understanding a lot more about it around the quantum of officers we will get, and the funding."

But he warned the infrastructure would need to be put in place to match the influx of new officers.

"It will need staff for the selection centres and the whole infrastructure around that will come at a cost," he said.

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"I am keen to understand how the new policing board is going to address these issues.

"We still do not know where the money is coming from, but ultimately that is down to politicians."

The Prime Minister has said he wants recruitment completed over the next three years. To support this the Government will shortly set out plans for a new national policing board.

Chaired by the Home Secretary and bringing together key police leaders, the new national policing board will hold the police to account for meeting the recruitment target and drive the national response to the most pressing issues that affect communities right across the country.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "Officers up and down the country put themselves in danger every day to keep us safe, they deserve our support.

"The rise we've seen in serious violence is deeply worrying. An additional 20,000 officers sends a clear message that we are committed to giving police the resources they need to tackle the scourge of crime.

"This is the start of a new relationship between the government and the police working even more closely together to protect the public."

But Andy Symonds, chairman of the Norfolk Police Federation, said: "It has taken 10 years of austerity to realise they have cut too far. It is going to take a number of years to reverse that.

"When the tap is turned back on how are you going to cope?

"We have reduced all the back office staff and the guys and girls out there fire fighting are suffering.

"I hope we have seen a change in tone from government and we get some sensible decisions from them."

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