England

Durham Police to recruit extra officers

Police officers
Image caption Durham Police will take on 20 new recruits over the next two years

Durham Police is to take on new officers for the first time in more than two years.

The force said it had made "significant savings" since a self-imposed recruitment freeze in 2009.

In the past year the force has cut 139 civilian posts as part of a 25% package of cuts in "back office" functions.

Durham Police Authority chairman Peter Thompson said a decision to cut "deep and early" meant the force could take on 20 extra officers over two years.

The new recruits will be taken from applicants who were successful at previous assessment sessions.

Mr Thompson said: "We are determined to maintain high quality policing and service delivery despite reductions in the amount of money we get from the government.

"Recruiting police officers will send out a powerful message to our communities that they can have confidence in us to provide an effective policing service."

'Maintain numbers'

Deputy Chief Constable Mike Barton added: "In 2010, as a result of good management and foresight, which anticipated the government's spending cuts, we embarked on a programme of compulsory redundancies for police staff, a review of non-staff expenditure and continued our freeze on police recruitment which has been in place since early 2009.

"We are now in a position to be able to review the freeze on police recruitment.

"We have a current agreed establishment of 1,370 police officers. The number of officers employed is likely to fall below this level soon due to retirements.

"To ensure that we maintain our current numbers of officers, the police authority is being asked to approve the recruitment of 10 police officers during the current financial year and 10 the following year."

The Durham branch of the Police Federation welcomed the move, saying the recruitment freeze needed to be lifted to avoid a skills and age gap at the force.

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