MORE than 100 extra police officers were hired in Avon and Somerset over the last year as part of the Government's national recruitment drive, new figures show. 

But the plan to boost police ranks has been criticised by the Police Federation of England and Wales for not going far enough following policing cuts over a decade.

Home Office figures show that there were 3,089 police officers in Avon and Somerset Constabulary in December, up from 2,963 a year before.

At an increase of 4.3%, this was greater than the average rise of 3.5% across England and Wales’s police forces.

Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s commitment to invest in police forces and increase officer numbers, the Home Office launched the police uplift programme in April 2020 with the aim of recruiting 20,000 new police officers by March 2023.

This would require a 15.6% increase in police officers across the two nations’ police forces over the three-year period.

By December 2021, 11,505 officers had been recruited nationally, a 9% increase.

In Avon and Somerset, the figure has risen by 9% since April 2020, meaning 254 more officers – all of which have been recruited via the Home Office's initiative.

The national increase follows dwindling police officer numbers between 2009 and 2017, during which the total number across England and Wales declined from almost 145,000 to just over 120,000.

Ché Donald, national vice-chairman of the Police Federation, said: "The current uplift programme to recruit 20,000 additional officers – which is now only halfway there – doesn’t go far enough, as it simply replaces the number of police officers lost during the years of austerity.

"Not only do we have an exponentially expanding population which has grown by 4 million in the last decade, but the level of crime has increased and become far more complex.