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Fewest officers, large fall in crime

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Thames Valley Police has 20 less front line officers than one year ago, however it recorded the lowest fall of any of the 43 forces as only one - Surrey - saw an increase from March 2011 to March 2012.
Thames Valley Police is in the middle of a brutal four-year austerity programme which will result in £55m being slashed from its budget between 2011 and 2015, and the cuts have hit resources.
However the force believes years of tight budgeting and meticulous planning dulled the impact of the financial losses as last week it was revealed that it recorded the second largest fall in crime out of all 43 forces across England and Wales.
The assistant chief constable of Thames Valley Police, Richard Bennett, said the force had got into the good habit of streamlining many years ago.
“Even when the Government was increasing funding we always looked at ways of making the force most cost effective. We always looked at increasing efficiency and set good practice and this is something that has gone on for some time,” he said.
The former Berkshire West command unit was abolished, which removed management and back office staff from HR and IT, but left officers in place.
As a result West Berkshire secured 18 more officer posts in the last year, which TVP hopes it will have filled by the end of the year.
Mr Bennett also hailed the figures which singled out Thames Valley Police as recording the second highest number of new recruits, up five per cent on the previous year, with more female and ethnic minority joiners.
“It sends out a very positive message as in the past the police was resistant to change, it was very much a white, male, Anglo-Saxon force,” he said.
“People who have different backgrounds have different ideas and a different perspective on life and they can bring that to their job.
“The force should reflect society and people feel more confident talking to the police if they see the organisation is more reflective.”
The Thames Valley Police Authority is responsible for hiring new recruits.
The chairman, Khan Juna, added: “Protecting visible front line services is a top priority for the Thames Valley Police Authority and this has remained the same throughout these challenging financial times.
“In fact the whole thrust of our financial strategy is to achieve efficient savings that have released resources that can be invested in improved frontline policing.”

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