Devon and Cornwall will gain 100 police officers but lose up to 190 PCSOs over the next four years as part of a £24million funding shake-up.
The increase in officers will take the force’s total back up to 3,000, and there are also plans to add 50 criminal investigators and 30 online record takers.
Setting out her crime plan for 2017 to 2020, police and crime commissioner Alison Hernandez also announced a £200,000 pot to help local authorities to set up CCTV monitoring hubs and a new ‘track my crime’ website for victims.
She said: “Devon and Cornwall Police is already a good force. Through better connection, clear direction and appropriate investment it can be one of the very best in the country.
“By freeing over £10million from reserves, by striving for further efficiencies, by raising money through the policing precept [its share of council tax] and changing other spending priorities, I have provided the chief constable with the funds to be one of the only forces in the country to increase its number of officers.”
The increased funding has been welcomed by Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer.
He said: “Devon and Cornwall Police prides itself on its local policing style and a team approach to keeping people safe.
“We will maintain the core elements within local policing to improve the connection with our communities, both digitally and through more traditional methods.
“The frontline has become very stretched over the past years of austerity.
“At the same time, demand has increased and the need for specialist capabilities, such as firearms officers and public order trained staff, has grown to meet the national and international threats.
“The redesign and reprioritisation of our workforce will require us to move some staff from existing roles, such as PCSOs, to other police staff roles, new staff investigation roles or to join up as police officers depending on their career aspirations and suitability.
“The changes made over the coming years will enable us to better connect with our communities, detect and prevent harm, reduce crime, protect the most vulnerable and provide a high quality of service to the public when they need us.”
To fund the shake-up, Ms Hernandez signed off taking £10million from Devon and Cornwall Police’s £70million reserves. It will raise the remaining £14million by increase its precept – the authority’s share of council tax. The move will cost the average band D household another £3.40 in 2017/18, taking the total contribution to £176.28
The ‘worst-case scenario’ is to cut the number of PCSOs from 340 to 150 but CC Sawyer said the force will try to mitigate the impact.