Somerset has been bolstered by 130 extra officers since the government launched its major police recruitment drive a year ago, new figures show.
It brings the total number of police across the force area to 2,965, meaning there are now more frontline officers on our streets to keep the public safe.
Since the launch of the recruitment campaign, a total of 5,824 extra officers have joined police forces across England and Wales.
This includes 397 in the South West, taking the total in the region to 9,817.
Avon and Somerset have seen the second biggest increase in numbers, behind Devon and Cornwall with 141.
The statistics confirm that the government remains fully on track to meet its manifesto commitment of recruiting 20,000 extra officers by 2023 and is ahead of schedule to have the first 6,000 in place by March 2021.
The figures also show that the police workforce is now more diverse than ever before, with 10.7% of new recruits identifying as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic. A total of 9,842 of all officers are now from these groups.
The recruitment drive is at the centre of the government’s commitment to back the police with more resources, powers and support to keep the public and their communities safe.
The government is boosting police pay by 2.5% this year, equivalent to a constable receiving an extra £1,100, providing officers with an increase above inflation for the second year running – the largest pay rise in a decade.
The government is also enshrining a new police covenant into law, which will offer enhanced support and protection for frontline officers, and bringing forward legislation to double the maximum sentence for those convicted of assaults on frontline staff including police officers, firefighters and paramedics.
Other steps to support frontline police include a £1.1billion funding boost for forces this year – the biggest increase in a decade – as well as funding to provide over 8,000 more officers with Taser devices and personalised new stop and search powers so they can effectively target repeat offenders.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Getting more police officers on our streets is a priority for the British people – therefore a priority for me. Just one year since we began recruiting, I am delighted that there are nearly 6,000 of the 20,000 additional officers on our streets cutting crime and making your communities safer.”
“As we’ve seen from the frontline response to coronavirus, the work of each and every police officer helps to save lives and I would like to extend my gratitude to them, and to the new recruits, for joining the police and being a part of this heroic national effort.”
Mark Shelford, the Conservative candidate to be Police and Crime Commissioner in Avon and Somerset, said: “I am delighted to hear that nearly 6,000 extra officers have been recruited in the first year of the government’s police recruitment drive. In my conversations with residents and community groups across the Avon and Somerset area, the biggest concerns raised are police visibility and responding to reports of crime, especially in rural areas.”
“Additional officers, if used effectively, would help to tackle this issue and reassure residents that the police are there for them, especially in times of need. The recruitment drive is still ongoing and so I would encourage people to seriously consider a career in the police.”
“To be effective requires recruitment of people from rural as well as urban communities. Having a more diverse police force will make it more effective at tackling issues faced by the varied and numerous communities in our area.”