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Last Updated: Monday, 1 March, 2004, 22:01 GMT
Police numbers at 'all-time high'
Beat officers
New officers are being targeted for high visibility duties
The number of police officers in England and Wales has reached an all-time high of 138,155, the Home Office has announced.

The figure amounts to a rise of 14,000 officers in three-and-a-half years, a spokeswoman said.

The new officers are being used for high-visibility duties in local communities.

They show an increase of 1,769 officers in the past six months, on top of the previous figure, which was a record.

The figures, which also show an increase of almost 6,000 in a year, are for the period ending December 2003.

I want to build on the progress we have already made by redefining the relationship of the police with the people they serve, making them locally accountable and more responsive to local needs
David Blunkett
The increase in the number of Met Police officers alone was 1,457, or 5.2%, since 31 March 2003.

Home Secretary David Blunkett said the continuing rise should "make a real difference to the quality of life in our communities".

He said: "I want to build on the progress we have already made by redefining the relationship of the police with the people they serve, making them locally accountable and more responsive to local needs.

"Building trust and confidence is essential if we are to move to a position where communities are actively supporting and working with police to tackle crime and disorder in their neighbourhoods."

Mr Blunkett cited the 100m spent on recruiting community support officers, reducing bureaucracy and modernising technology to free up officers.

'Releasing officers'

A Home Office spokeswoman said the total "extended police family", including officers and civilian staff, meant police in England and Wales now employed more than 212,000 people.

That included 3,243 community support officers, 11,037 special constables and 63,105 police staff used, in part, for jobs like scene of crime officers to "release officers for frontline duties".

CSOs free up officers to tackle more serious crimes
Home Office
She said the use of CSOs was not "policing on the cheap" but was "an additional resource over and above record police numbers".

She said: "They perform a separate but complementary role to police officers in patrolling streets and tackling anti-social behaviour. CSOs free up officers to tackle more serious crimes."

Last month the Home Office launched a 2.5m advertising campaign to recruit hundreds more special police constables in England and Wales.

National and regional advertisements on television, radio and in the press portray volunteers doing the same work as regular officers.

It is aimed at reversing the decline in the number of volunteers, which has fallen by 40% in the past seven years.

The Home Office has a target of 14,000 special constables by 2006/2007.


SEE ALSO:
'Community police for hire' plan
16 Nov 03  |  Politics
Tories pledge huge police rise
10 Sep 03  |  Wales


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