Thames Valley Police 'in danger of becoming reactive'

Thames Valley Police officers
Image caption Thames Valley Police Federation believes cuts to services will make the force 'more reactive'

A police force is "in danger of becoming a reactive service" despite a record increase in council tax funding, its officers' federation has said.

PC Craig O'Leary, chairman of Thames Valley Police (TVP) Federation, said the rise in council tax would "just literally keep us standing still".

TVP commissioner Anthony Stansfeld increased the force's precept by 13.2% last week to "stop cutting back".

He said the extra cash would be used to recruit more officers.

Mr Stansfeld approved the rise, which will cost band D households £24 more a year, to generate about £24 million and stop "unacceptable reductions in resources".

'Retention challenges'

But with the force still required to save £15,1m over the next four years, PC O'Leary said he did not believe the council tax rise would "lead to a massive wave of police officer numbers".

He told the BBC: "Unfortunately this money will only keep us where we are now.

"My fear is that we have to stop that trend of keep cutting and cutting [because] it has the danger of our police force in particular and others becoming increasingly more and more reactive and almost losing that proactive element."

TVP currently employs 3,753 officers after losing 235 in the first nine months of the last financial year.

But the force hopes to have 3,850 officers in its ranks by March and is investing £2.5m of its budget into recruitment.

Image caption Chief Constable Francis Habgood said officer recruitment was heading in the 'right direction'

Reasons for the decline in numbers are largely down to retirements and "about 100" officers transferring to other forces, Chief Constable Francis Habgood said.

He added: "We have got the highest turnover rate in the country now.

"We have no problem in attracting good quality people wanting to join. But we have had some retention challenges."

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