Staffordshire Police numbers set to fall despite recent recruitments
POLICE officer numbers in Staffordshire will continue to fall this year – despite the force recruiting 28 new bobbies.
Staffordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Matthew Ellis has ended a recruitment freeze to allow the force to take on new recruits for the first time since 2010.
But despite this – and the end of the forced retirement of officers with 30 years' service – the number of bobbies will still fall by 11 in 2013/14.
That compares to an expected decrease of 104 officers in 2012/13.
Members of Staffordshire's Police and Crime Panel met with Mr Ellis yesterday to discuss his budget proposals for 2013/14 at a meeting in Stafford yesterday afternoon.
Panel chairman Frank Chapman, a Conservative county councillor, quizzed the PCC about where he was finding the money for the new recruits.
Mr Ellis said: "There are very significant untapped opportunities to reduce costs around procurement, some services and some back office support.
"I've made a judgment to recruit these officers and I'm extremely confident I will be able to recoup the money going forward."
Staffordshire Police have seen their annual Government settlement cut by 1.6 per cent, or £1.8 million, to £117.4 million for 2013/14.
PCC treasurer Paul Brindley said: "The financial settlement for 2013/14 was slightly better than we expected when it was announced in December.
"That together with efficiencies we are making throughout the year will provide funding for the recruitment of the officers."
The recruitment freeze and the enforced retirement has seen the number of Staffordshire Police officers fall from a 2006 peak of 2,347 to 1,915.
Numbers are set to reach 1,750 by 2015.
The number of police staff – which includes Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) – will also fall by 44 in 2012/13, and a further 43 by April next year.
The end of the A19 enforced retirement meant 21 of the force's longest serving officers, who were due to leave before Christmas, were offered the chance to continue in their jobs.
But Mr Ellis said only a 'small number' of those had decided not to go ahead with their retirement.
In the coming year, around 30 officers who would have been forced to retire are expected to choose to stay on.
Mr Brindley told the panel: "It is difficult to gauge the impact of ending A19 because it is the decision of individual officers – some may still want to retire.
"We have made the presumption that half the officers will still retire and the other half will stay.
"That would be about an extra 30 officers in 2013/14."
Panel members welcomed Mr Ellis's decision to freeze the force's council tax bill from April for a third successive year.
It means householders in Band A properties will pay £118.41 to the police in 2013/14 and those in Band D will pay £177.61.
The force will have an overall budget of £185 million for 2013/14.