Police recruitment drive will help crack down on drug dealing

A police car parked near other police vehicles

Police recruitment drive on track to beat pre-austerity 3,556-officer record in 2010 - Credit: Archant

The Government’s announcement that it wanted to add another 20,000 police officers to forces in England and Wales between 2020 and 2023 was great news for our communities and anyone wanting to become a police officer.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures out last Thursday confirmed that we are well on target to achieve our allocation. Nationally 11,053 of these new officers are already in post. So far Devon and Cornwall Police has successfully recruited 229 of its allocated uplift, meaning a current strength of 3,394.

That number is expected to rise to 279 by next April and 423 12 months later, bringing the total number of officers to 3,610 – significantly higher than the 3,556-officer record set in pre-austerity 2010.

One of the key tasks for these new officers will be to crack down on the drug dealing that blights so many of our cities, towns and villages.

As the ONS confirmed officer uplift numbers I was in Bridgwater where I joined Commissioners from Dorset, Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire to discuss a regional approach to the effort to rid our communities of the scourge of drugs, which not only cause misery and death to their users but are also the root cause of so much other crime.

We want the South West to be a hostile environment for dealers and are determined to work together to that end.

Before my regional meeting I was at the Manadon Sports and Community Hub, Plymouth, to hear about the work this national charity is doing with funding from the Serious Violence Prevention Programme, an initiative the Chief Constable and I established a year ago.

Street Games is engaging young people in Plymouth in sporting activity to encourage physical fitness, discipline, leadership and teamwork so they are less likely to get into trouble. It is not a new concept. International heavyweight Anthony Joshua has credited Finchley Boxing Club with getting him on the straight and narrow after he walked in aged 18.

Plymothians are fortunate enough to have in their midst Chrissy Peacock, a former Royal Navy boxing coach who was last year awarded a British Empire Medal for services to her sport. She has been working with young people in her community for years, ensuring that they have a positive role model in their lives and a safe place they can call their own. Funding will ensure her work, and the work of coaches from myriad other sports, is on a more secure footing.

I am convinced this triple approach of diverting young people away from crime, taking enforcement action against criminals with a greater police presence and greater regional collaboration between forces is the solution that will deliver safer and more prosperous communities.