Merseyside Police will be recruiting an additional 80 new police officers and 14 police staff and will be able to stem the loss of approximately 40 officer posts to invest in more police on the streets of Merseyside over the next year.
This means that the force will be able to invest in the creation of a new team to target wanted fugitives and the introduction of a new Cyber Investigations Unit.
The force budget was announced today, Friday 22 February 2019, at a special public meeting held by Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy and Chief Constable Andy Cooke.
Funding for 40 of the new officer posts has been generated from the increase of the police precept on council tax, following a public consultation held by the Commissioner.
Savings that the force has identified throughout the last year, have also generated funding for a further 40 officers and will save approximately 40 police officer posts that were due to be lost.
The force will also bring in an extra 14 police staff in 2019/20.
The new and saved posts will increase capacity on the front line and create dedicated teams of officers and staff to target those who cause the most harm to the communities of Merseyside.
In the last year Merseyside has seen an increase in knife crime, violence and robbery, and the force is still managing the threat that serious organised crime, which includes gun and drug related crime, brings to communities. We want to ensure that we have the capacity to respond to these incidents and put those involved in this type of criminality on the back foot. To do that we are now in the position to create a Priority Crime Team within Matrix disruption. The sole aim of that team will be to transfer the fear of crime back on to the criminal through targeted, proactive policing.
A centralised Fugitive Team will also be set up to track and arrest wanted criminals and bring them to justice. The team will find those wanted on arrest warrants and who have breached licences and will support the force’s local policing and targeted teams to locate suspects who commit crime in our communities.
Today, very different threats exist within our communities – the advent of computers and the internet, which have revolutionised our work and private lives in the last 40 years have brought new types of crime online, which are much more complex to investigate and require specialist teams and technological capability. The additional posts mean the force now has the ability to establish a new cyber investigations unit which will provide a dedicated, specialist resource to tackle the threat of cyber crime, including online fraud and exploitation.
The force will also be able to ring fence resources for Operation Castle, which was set up to target offenders and reduce burglary across Merseyside. In the last year, following the launch of Operation Castle, there has been a 22 per cent decrease in residential burglaries and we have seen people sentenced to more than 130 years for burglary offences across Merseyside. This could not have been achieved without the commitment and personal responsibility of officers and staff, who understand the devastating impact that burglary can have on victims and we are committed to visiting victims of burglary and finding those responsible.
Additional police staff will join the existing Sex Offenders Unit to provide a more effective and efficient service to the management of registered sex offenders.
Additional resources will also be added to the force’s digital policing team to continue to develop technology to help officers meet changing demands and transform the police’s relationship with the public by introducing new digital contact channels that help people report crime and interact with police officers and staff.
The force’s capability and capacity to manage human trafficking, a new and emerging type of crime on Merseyside, will also be bolstered
Chief Constable Andy Cooke said:
"This investment is positive news for the force and the people of Merseyside and I would like to thank our communities for understanding the difficult position we are in and supporting us, so that we can make a direct difference to the number of officers we have on our streets and to the service we are able to provide. I know people are facing difficult times themselves but together we can make our communities safer.
“Since 2010 the force has lost £110m and more than 1,600 officers and staff due to funding cuts. Last year we dealt with 397,738 calls for service and 124,857 crimes and we are feeling the strain of less resources and increased demand. This investment will help to alleviate some of that pressure and give us the ability to try and deal with new, emerging crime in a different way.
“There’s no doubt that the funding situation will continue to be challenging for us going forward and we will need to keep looking for additional ways of making savings now and in the future. The investment clearly doesn’t take us back to the position we were in before 2010 but I am pleased that we are now in a position to recruit new officers and staff. This additional capacity will give us much needed support in protecting our communities, preventing crime and pursuing offenders”
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “The Chief Constable and I know that the public of Merseyside want more, not fewer, officers on their streets. While the Government have provided more direct grant, this increase is not even sufficient to cover the cost of inflation.
“I am extremely grateful to our communities for stepping up and showing their support for local policing through the precept. Through their generosity, we have been able to raise an additional £9.9m, which will mean that for the first time in nine years we are in a position to increase the number of feet on the beat in Merseyside.
“This will be complemented by the money we have been able to generate from savings, which will also be reinvested in new officers and used to target those offenders who cause the most harm in our communities. This is an encouraging step forward and I hope it will be followed with more generous settlements in the future.”