Merseyside Police will accelerate their recruitment drive to bring 500 new officers into training over the next year, more than double the Government’s target.
This means the force will have nearly 4,000 officers by March 2021, with the aim of putting new officers in every area of the region once they have completed their training, including a new team of schools officers.
The plans were confirmed as the force budget was set today (Tuesday, 17th February 2020) at a public meeting held by the Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy and attended by the Chief Constable Andy Cooke QPM at her offices in Mather Avenue Police Training Centre in Liverpool.
Funding for the recruitment drive has come from central government, who have allocated an additional £23m in direct grant, supported by extra money provided from local people through their council tax which has enabled the Commissioner to meet inflationary pressures.
The additional funding puts Merseyside Police in the best possible position to recruit 200 new officers, as expected by central government, while also accelerating the force’s recruitment drive so they can recruit a further 300 new officers over the next 12 months.
Today’s budget announcement follows last week’s meeting of the Police and Crime Panel, the body which scrutinises the Commissioner’s work, at which they endorsed plans to increase the local council tax after hearing from Jane and the Chief about their commitment to bring extra officers on to the streets of Merseyside. This approved police precept increase equates to £10 a year on a Band D property and brings Merseyside Police’s annual resources for 2020/21 to £359million.
Jane said: “This is marvellous news for Merseyside. Through the generosity of local people and the support of the Police and Crime Panel, the Chief Constable and I can now increase the number of officers patrolling the streets of Merseyside.
“An extra 500 officers will make a huge difference. We know people want to see more bobbies on the beat and this will enable the Chief Constable to put extra officers into every area of Merseyside. It will also enable him to re-start much of the vital crime prevention initiatives that were gradually eroded by years of cuts, including putting officers back into our schools to work with young people and deter them from getting involved in crime.
“When I launched the budget consultation we were still working through the detail for the budget therefore I used the Government’s target figure of 200 new officers, rather than the aspiration we had for achieving 500 extra officers. I am delighted that I can reward local people’s support and generosity by now confirming we will be able to get those extra officers into training in the next 12 months.
“I want to pass on my heartfelt thanks to local people who showed their overwhelming support for maximising the precept for their police service and to Panel members too who also endorsed my proposals. While there are still challenges ahead, with savings still earmarked for the next four years, this is a very big step forward in the recovery of Merseyside Police and I hope more will follow in the years to come.”
In January, the Government confirmed they would allocate Merseyside an extra £23m in direct grant to cover the costs of recruiting 200 new officers this year, including providing items such as uniforms, vehicles, and additional office space and infrastructure.
The Government also gave Police and Crime Commissioners the power to raise the local council tax precept to cover increases in the force’s day-to-day running costs, in particular last year’s pay rise.
During a 10-day consultation with local people last month, 83% of respondents indicated their willingness to pay the additional money to protect their local police service. The public’s support enabled the Commissioner to take the proposal to the Police and Crime Panel in order to generate an extra £4.7m for Merseyside Police.
The increase would see anyone in a Band A category household, the lowest category but the one paid by the majority of households across Merseyside, paying an extra 13p a week or £6.67 a year. For a Band D property, it equates 19p a week or £10 a year.