Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner has today (Friday, 26 July 2019) responded to the announcement from the government to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers across England and Wales,

Dr Billings said: “For some time Police and Crime Commissioners have been warning of the dangers in cutting police numbers and urging the government to increase them. I believe there is a link between numbers of officers and the force’s ability to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. I therefore welcome the clear pledge of the new government to increase numbers by 20,000 nationally. I look forward to hearing from them how many that equates to for South Yorkshire.

“In fact, we have already been increasing numbers in South Yorkshire anyway. This year I have used council tax to add an additional 63 posts. And between now and 2024 we were planning to increase overall numbers by 220.

“There are some unanswered questions, however.

“Increasing at this pace over three years will represent a challenge for recruitment, especially as from next year police officers will be required either to have a degree or to work for a professional degree on the job.

“It is also not clear where the money is coming from. The government may support with grant or may put the burden of paying onto council tax payers or withhold part of the annual grant (top slice) for this purpose. I have said that I do not think South Yorkshire council tax payers can be asked to pay for above inflation increases. In other words, this is only good news if it is fully funded by the government – and that means salaries, the cost of training, uniforms and equipment

“There is also an opportunity here for many younger people in South Yorkshire to have a good career in policing and to take advantage of the new apprenticeship route into the profession, working for a degree while on the job – ‘earn as you learn’.