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Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill has cautiously welcomed a government announcement about new officer recruitment targets.

The Home Office has confirmed the officer recruitment targets for every police force in England and Wales for 2020-21.

The target announced for Dorset Police is 50 new officers, which will be in addition to those hired to fill existing vacancies.

The announcement covers the first stage of the government’s three-year drive to increase officer numbers nationally by 20,000.

Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: ‘Of course, I would always welcome new officers, and I thank the Home Office for this investment, as well as our local MPs for the support they have shown myself and Dorset Police.

‘I look forward to seeing Dorset Police recruit more officers next year and I hope local people will take advantage of the many excellent opportunities that exist within the Force.

‘I also welcome the announcement that next year’s funding will cover all associated costs including training and kit.

‘However, this announcement only covers the first year of recruitment and in order to avoid any uncertainty and enable myself and the Chief Constable to properly plan for the future, I would like to hear official confirmation of targets for the second and third years as early as possible.

‘It’s important to stress that while this investment is long overdue, it will not reverse the damage which has been inflicted by eight years of austerity. Even if we saw similar recruitment targets over the next three years, it will not bring us back to the officer levels we saw before the cuts, or address the police staff also lost during this time.

‘Dorset Police now has the lowest officer levels since 1981 and we may need to see a much more significant recruitment drive in order to take us back to pre-austerity levels.’

Dorset Police Chief Constable James Vaughan said: ‘This is a good start and it will bring a welcome relief to our stretched workforce.

‘These much needed extra officers are great news for the communities that we serve in Dorset. I would like to reassure them that the new officers will be carefully invested for maximum effect and we have already developed firm plans to recruit these officers.

‘The extra officers will assist the Force in moving from good to outstanding in the way we deliver services.’

Anyone interested in a career in the Dorset Police family can visit www.dorset.police.uk/recruitment/.

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