THE police and crime commissioner for Hampshire says communities will start to see the benefit of more officers on the streets.

Donna Jones spoke about officer visibility and policing numbers at the annual town assembly at Fordingbridge Town Hall on June 1.

A key pledge in the PCC’s police and crime plan is to deliver 600 more police officers by 2023.

She said: “My number one priority is to deliver 600 more police and number two is to increase police visibility so that you see the police cycling, walking, responding, engaging with young people.”

The government’s “uplift” programme aims to have 20,000 more police officers across the country by March 31, 2023.

In Hampshire, the meeting heard, the share was 498 more police officers but Ms Jones wanted to go “above and beyond that” - setting a target of 600 – and that the money had been found to pay for the 102 extra officers.

However, it was not known the proportion of officers that would be allocated for Fordingbridge and Ringwood.

Fordingbridge Mayor, Cllr Anna Wilson said: “The police presence in the town – we just don’t see it.”

The PCC praised the “awesome job” done by local officers and explained how “stretched” they are because there simply has not been enough money in policing across the UK over the last few years.”

The budget for policing had also increased and a three-year spending indication had been given by the Home Office.

She said communities would now be seeing the “true benefit” of more officers and explained that new officers went through a two-year probationary period. Adding: “We are now seeing the true benefit of that every month now going forward as probationers are passing out and are fully fledged to go and be a true benefit to neighbourhood policing teams.”

Inspector Darren Ord added: “The numbers certainly for Ringwood and Fordingbridge have increased over the last year.”

But he reiterated the neighbourhood policing team was not just what could be seen at the meeting but included officers in Ringwood and that it was supported by response and patrol teams in Lyndhurst. However he also added that the neighbourhood policing team did not work 24/7.

The policing team also had three new student officers covering Ringwood and Fordingbridge, which the inspector said gave him access to more staff to put into those towns and to “move staff” to deal with problems in particular areas.

The meeting also heard money would be saved by relocating the PCC office from Winchester to Fareham and reducing the number of staff, which would save a total of £700,000. This, she said, would “go back into policing to pay for more cops”.

But the PCC did admit that she felt 600 more officers was not enough and that 1,000 more would ensure “we can cover everything that we need to do”.

“More houses, more people, population growing that number is going to have to continue to grow as well,” she said.

“I really hope that over this summer we’ll start to see a change and certainly going forward.”


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