Record number of officers back on beat

The number of police officers on duty across England and Wales has soared in
the last 12 months representing the highest annual rise on record.

The latest figures show the number of officers grew by 6,000 last year, reaching
a total of 138,155 by December 2003.

The increase takes the total number of staff in the ‘extended police family’
to more than 212,000, including 3,346 community support officers and 11,037
special constables.

Home secretary David Blunkett has also announced a new £5m fund to
strengthen community involvement to help tackle crime in local areas.

Trials in eight police forces have led to dedicated high visibility patrols
in some neighbourhoods, with the aim of making officers more accessible to local
residents.

"Police numbers continue to rise and it is vital we make the best use
of them to make a real difference to the quality of life in our
communities," Blunkett said.

"We have committed £100m to recruit community support officers, have
reduced bureaucracy and provided modern equipment to free-up more
officers," he said.

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