Crime Commissioner candidate pledges to '˜draw line' under falling police numbers in Nottinghamshire

A candidate for the role of Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner has pledged to '˜draw a line' under falling police numbers in the county if he wins the election later this year.

Former police officer and Conservative candidate for the role Tony Harper made the announcement as he outlined his vision for the future of the county force in an interview with the Chad.

The number of full-time police officers in Nottinghamshire has dropped by almost 400 since 2010 - from 2,409 down to 2016 this month.

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The number of PCSOs has also fallen by almost 30, with more facing the axe this year.

Mr Harper, who grew up in Hucknall, served with Derbyshire police and now lives near Eastwood, said the force needed to make ‘backroom savings’ in order to get more officers out on thew streets.

He said: “We do need to draw a line under falling police numbers. What I would never want to be seen as is somebody who cuts back the police force because I have invested 36 years of my life into it.”

He added that he would divert many administration tasks currently carried out by police officers to civilian staff, and save cash by reducing what the force is spending year-on-year on things like translation services.

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The constabulary currently spends an average of £400,000 per year on freelance or agency interpreters, which Mr Harper said could be reduced dramatically by employing language specialists directly.

He added that expertise, such as interpreters, could also be shared around different constabularies in the region to offer a further financial saving.

But Mr Harper (pictured) backed calls for a reduction in the number of PCSOs, claiming that the role does not offer value for money.

He told the Chad that it costs as much to employ five PCSOs as it does to recruit six full-time police officers, but the support role does not come with powers of arrest and PCSOs only work standard 9-5 hours.

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Instead he wants to fill the gap with a massive recruitment drive into the Special Constabulary - relying on volunteers to fulfill a major community policing role.

“Currently in Nottinghamshire, Specials are seen as a bit of a nuisance by regular officers,” he said.

“These people are typically community-minded individuals who want to put something back, but they turn up for duty at the police station and nobody really knows what to do with them, so they end up doing filing or washing the pots.”

Aside from expanding the Special Constabulary, Mr Harper said he wants to increase police presence in local communities by having officers based at building such as ambulance stations and other venues.

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He also wants the force to split its focus between community and preventative policing with response policing - dealing with major incidents.

On Thursday (January 14), Nottinghamshire Police revealed that the number of police inspectors in Mansfield and Ashfield are to be cut in half.

Currently, there are four neighbourhood inspectors covering the north and south of each area.

From next month there will only be one each for both Mansfield and Ashfield.

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Insp Nick Butler will join Mansfield from the Hucknall policing team and Insp Glenn Longden will head up Ashfield.

“Preventing crime is much cheaper than solving crime and with more collaboration between forces we can save a significant amount of money.

“All of this saved money would go to front-line policing rather than supporting the back office,” Mr Harper said.

The PCC elections are set to take place in May.