Eight thousand new neighbourhood police will be ‘dedicated’ to their local areas, says policing minister Chris Philp

10 June 2024, 09:21

Police Minister says there are record numbers of police officers.
Police Minister says there are record numbers of police officers. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By LBC

Policing minister Chris Philp has told LBC that 8,000 new police officers the Tories plan to recruit will be ‘dedicated’ to their local areas.

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Mr Philp told LBC this morning: "We already have record numbers of police officers. Last year, we hit 149,566. I'm counting every single one.

"That's more than we've ever had at any point in this country's history. But we're now saying we're going to go further. We're pledging an extra 8,000 neighbourhood officers on top of that."

He went on to say that the officers will be 'dedicated' to their local area and they will be 'ring-fenced' to a particular area and "can only be moved in emergency or exceptional circumstances."

The officers will be fully warranted with the power to make arrests.

The Tories said the plan would be funded in part by increasing visa fees by 25% and making overseas students pay a higher level of immigration health surcharge.

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The Prime Minister highlighted the Tory record of recruiting 20,000 officers since 2019, although this matched the number of officers lost during the years of austerity after 2010.

Mr Sunak said: "Our new 20,000 new police officers since 2019 have made a huge difference, with neighbourhood crime down 48% as a result.

Rishi Sunak MP - British Prime Minister - leaving Downing Street for Prime Minister's Questions, 19th April 2023
The Prime Minister said "more bobbies on the beat" with greater powers would help drive down crime. Picture: Alamy

"We will now go further by hiring 8,000 more police officers, each one dedicated to their local community.

"People deserve to feel safe in their neighbourhood.

"More bobbies on the beat and increased powers will give police forces the tools they need to drive down neighbourhood crime even further."

The Tories plan to press ahead with extra powers for officers to crack down on so-called zombie knives and use GPS tracking technology to search for stolen phones without a warrant. These powers were included in the Criminal Justice Bill, which was halted when Mr Sunak called the General Election.

Policing minister Chris Philp pointed specifically to technology like Find My iPhone, saying if someone goes to the police with the location of their stolen item, officers should "have the power to enter that property immediately."

Labour has set out a goal of having an extra 13,000 constables and police and community support officers (PCSOs) involved in neighbourhood policing.

However, the Tories said this means only 3,000 extra full-time police officers, with the rest made up of PCSOs, officers redeployed to neighbourhood teams, and volunteer special constables.

Mr Philp said: "Labour has all kinds of different promises, such as moving police officers around and hiring PCSOs, but Labour's plan only has 3,000 new full-time warranted officers. We are proposing 8,000, so almost three times more than the Labour equivalent."

The Tory policy for England and Wales would see 2,000 extra officers recruited a year, reaching the target of 8,000 in 2027-28.

London, England, UK. 7th June, 2024. Shadow Home Secretary YVETTE COOPER is seen departing via side door of the venue where shadow cabinet meet with union representatives for the last shape of
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper dismissed the plan as "another empty promise from a desperate Tory party". Picture: Alamy

The total annual cost will reach £818 million in 2029/30, the Conservatives said.

Hiking visa fees and removing the student discount will raise £600 million in 2024/25, the Tories said.

The immigration health surcharge is currently £1,035 a year, but students get a discount and pay £776.

The Conservative plan would amend the law so the extra money raised can be spent on wider costs, but it is promised that the funding currently raised by the surcharge will remain earmarked for the NHS.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper dismissed the plan as "another empty promise from a desperate Tory party".

"The Tories have repeatedly promised more police on the beat but instead they have cut 10,000 neighbourhood police, 90% of crimes are going unsolved, prisons are in crisis and more than twice as many people now say they never see the police on the beat," she said.

"Meanwhile the Tories' funding sums are a fudge that seem to depend on continued high migration which they promised to bring down.

LONDON, UK. 15  March, 2022 . Alistair Carmichael  Liberal Democrats Member of Parliament for Orkney and Shetland Credit: amer ghazzal/Alamy Live News
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael said 6,000 crimes were still going unsolved every day. Picture: Alamy

"Labour has a costed and funded plan to put 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs back on the beat, by cutting back-office waste."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael said 6,000 crimes were still going unsolved every day.

"The Conservatives have already failed to protect our communities from crime," he said.

"From slashing community officer numbers into oblivion to funnelling millions into pet projects instead of bobbies on the beat, Conservative ministers have got their priorities all wrong for years."

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