Gavin Williamson: We need extra police on Staffordshire streets
Gavin Williamson has demanded hundreds of new police officers on the streets of Staffordshire in a bid to further reduce crime.
The cabinet minister has demanded a "dramatic" rise in officer numbers for Staffordshire Police, arguing that the Government's pledge for 90 extra officers as part of a nationwide recruitment drive did not go far enough.
Mr Williamson, the education secretary and MP for South Staffordshire, made the call after a meeting with Staffordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Ben Adams.
They have made reducing crime in the county a priority – and see getting more bobbies on the beat as a key part of that aim.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Williamson said: "I highlighted the need for more police officers in Staffordshire and want to see a dramatic rise in police numbers.
"The officers we have in Staffordshire do an amazing job, but I want to see hundreds more of them on the streets, including in South Staffordshire.
"Across the county we are seeing an extra 90 police officers. To see the reduction in crime that we all want, that number needs to grow even more."
The move follows calls from Keith Jervis, chairman of Staffordshire Police Federation, who recently said the force will need hundreds more new recruits to bring it back up to full strength.
It follows concerns over recent years about the decline in the number of officers on the streets of Staffordshire.
House of Commons Library figures published in October 2019 say the county's force has 1,567 officers, putting it 40th out of 42 forces in England and Wales in terms of police per 100,000 population.
The number of officers was far lower than other forces of comparable size, including Cheshire (2,006), Derbyshire (1,767) and Leicestershire (1,829) – all of which have much smaller budgets than Staffordshire Police.
However, the force area is one of just four in the country where crime has fallen over the past year, although some crime categories such as theft had gone up.
Mr Adams is bidding to succeed current PCC Matthew Ellis, who is standing down in May. He has unveiled plans to increase police visibility, protect borders from gangs running ‘county lines’ drug operations and tackle rural crime.
Staffordshire Police launched its own recruitment drive last year, with plans to bring in 180 officers in 2019-20.
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