Police numbers set to increase to meet new demands on force

Police and crime commissioner, Jason Ablewhite

Police and crime commissioner, Jason Ablewhite - Credit: Archant

The police and crime commissioner for Cambridgeshire has said that his force will be increasing the number of new officers in the next year, the first time the constabulary has expanded for more than a decade.

Jason Ablewhite said there would be 105 new constables in Cambridgeshire by the end of next April, in a bid to cope with an increase in demand from the public.

However, the commissioner told the Hunts Post that although the demand for officers was increasing, it wasn’t necessarily because of an increase in the level of crime.

Mr Ablewhite said the increase in the demand for officers wasn’t always due to a rise in crime, and in some cases police were called to deal with vulnerable people in need of help or guidance.

Mr Ablewhite said: “The main pressures of policing at the moment are demand, and a lot of that is non-crime related demand. You quite often hear a narrative about vulnerable health issues.

“We have a lot of elderly people walk out of homes on their own and go missing and all of these become priorities for the police to tackle. So demand is one of the biggest issues that we face.”

Responding to recent criticism from residents who were concerned about the number of ‘bobbies on the beat’, Mr Ablewhite said it would be impossible to deal with every incident but, by adding extra officers, it should help take the strain off the force.

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Mr Ablewhite said the force would be expanded by the end of April, which would be the first time the force has grown since 2005.

He said: “In order to respond to [increasing demand], the local policing review has reduced layers of supervision, from six areas to two, which increases the number of boots on the frontline and, with a prospective increase in Council Tax of £1 for band D home, all of that money will go into supplying new officers.” Mr Ablewhite also spoke about how the number of crimes that are being committed may have to be investigated behind a computer screen which may be a reason for people not seeing as many officers patrolling the streets.

He said: “A lot of crimes these days that we have to try and deal with are cyber crime, which a lot of the time will require officers to sit behind a desk and investigate. This is one of the reasons why people may not be seeing as many officers physically on the beat, but doesn’t mean they aren’t doing their job.”