Police officers in Northamptonshire at lowest number since 2013

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The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) officers at Northamptonshire Police is at its lowest in five years.

New Home Office police workforce figures show the the force has 1,187.75 FTE officers - down from 1,267.7 in 2013.

The number of FTE neighbourhood officers dropped from 309.43 in 2016 to 145.42 in 2017, having risen from 123.86 the year before.

Chris Hillery, head of local policing at Northants Police, said: “As many of our residents in the county will be aware, national police funding has had an impact on overall policing numbers across the country and this is no different in Northamptonshire.

“However, through collaboration and remodelling, we have been fortunate in the sense that the overall number of regular officers hasn’t significantly changed since the 2010 comprehensive spending review.

“The way we police has also had to dramatically change in recent years, particularly with the introduction of the digital age which has altered the way crime is committed and investigated, as well as ensuring that we are always protecting the most vulnerable people in our society.

“Despite these challenges, however, our primary purpose has always been to protect people from harm and we remain absolutely committed to doing that via a quality, professional neighbourhood policing service.

“Before the introduction of our current policing model, neighbourhood police officers would spend a large proportion of their time either tapped into our control room responding to incidents or being tasked to work outside of their geographic communities.

“This meant that they were unable to effectively identify and problem-solve community issues.

“This changed when our new policing model was introduced with neighbourhood police officers and PCSOs now entirely focused on protecting local communities.

“So although I acknowledge that there has of course been a reduction in the numbers of neighbourhood officers from 2012 to the present day, the ones that remain now focus on neighbourhood policing – working with partner agencies and the community to understand local issues, having a visible presence in their areas and being able to engage with our communities in a more meaningful way.”

In 2012, the number of officers and PCSOs per 1,000 people in the county was 0.53.

In 2017, it was 0.31 - ranking Northamptonshire at 35th out of 45 forces analysed for the ratio.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We know the nature of crime is changing, and we’ve spoken to every police force in the country to understand the demands they are facing.

“In December, we set out a comprehensive settlement to strengthen local and national policing, which will mean police funding will increase by up to £450m next year.

“We are clear that effective local policing needs to be about more than just visibility in isolation.

“With crime increasingly taking place behind closed doors and online it is also about safeguarding vulnerable groups or individuals and giving the police the powers they need to deal with emerging and hidden crimes.”

Nationally, the number of police community support officers in England and Wales dropped from 14,393 to 10,205

FTE officers and PCSOs in Northamptonshire by year:

2017: 1187.75

2016: 1214

2015: 1229

2014: 1238.98

2013: 1267.7

2012: 1234.18