The announcement by Home Secretary Priti Patel of 62 new police officers for North Wales has been given a guarded welcome by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones.
The increase comes as part of a package of 6,000 new PCs which was made public today as part of a plan to put 20,000 new officers on the beat over three next three years.
Arfon Jones said: “Any increase in police numbers is to be welcomed especially if it is paid for via an increase in the Central Police Grant thus reducing the burden on already hard up local taxpayers.
“It should also be remembered that the cost of 62 officers is a fraction of the £31 million that North Wales Police have lost since 2010.
“It’s also worth making the point that here in North Wales we have done our best to redress the balance of those cuts by recruiting more than 62 police officers in the last two years.
“I also hope to see the Force rebuilding the resilience of its roads policing unit with some of these additional resources.
“But it remains unclear from today’s announcement whether rural forces are receiving our proper entitlement compared to the larger urban forces – I suspect not.”
Earlier Home Secretary Patel told the National Policing Board, involving representatives of frontline officers and police leaders: “The public are clear they want to see more police officers on their streets, whether they live in the city or the countryside.
“This is the people’s priority and it is exactly what the Government is delivering.
“Every single police force in England and Wales will be able to recruit additional officers this year to help keep all of our communities safer.”
She said that all officers recruited as part of the 20,000 uplift will be additional to those hired to fill existing vacancies.
Mr Jones, a former Police Inspector himself, said that since his election in 2016 had managed to increase staffing by North Wales Police in the face of a series of real terms cuts in its budget.
This had amounted to £31 million over ten years and he added: “My Police and Crime Plan aims to reduce threat, risk and harm by identifying the most vulnerable people in society. I will do everything in my power to protect them.
“Crime is evolving and as a police force we have to change to deal with new threats like modern slavery, human trafficking and child sexual exploitation, as well as the massive increase in cybercrime
“We are facing new and increasing challenges so the force must evolve and adapt and despite the Government’s swingeing cuts of recent years, we have continued to invest in our frontline so that North Wales continues to be one of the safest places in the UK to live, work and visit.”