Northamptonshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner says the current level of 1,220 police officers in the county may have to decrease to make room for specialist staff to fight the growing level of cyber crime.
Stephen Mold, who was elected in May, has launched a public consultation of his draft police and crime priorities, which set the basis for his five-year Police and Crime Plan.
Unlike his predecessor Adam Simmonds, who set a base level of police officers at 1,220, Mr Mold said he saw his workforce, which also includes about 800 civilian roles, as one big team of 2,000 staff.
The commissioner said cyber crimes - such as online fraud, child sexual grooming and the sharing of indecent images of children - were rapidly increasing and he wanted to recruit more people to tackle these offences, who may not be police officers.
He said: “I think we have to have a shift in our cyber crime fighting capability. But this is a public consultation and the public may disagree.
“I believe we have 2,000 people here keeping the public safe. Who and what that will look like in the future may be different.
“I won’t be setting an arbitrary target to make myself look good. This is about doing the right thing, not what makes me popular.”
Mr Mold said he wanted to make use of technology, such as giving officers the equipment to log incidents outside the office, so they had more time to respond to incidents.
He said he also wanted to make it easier for the public to report crime online or even through social media.
The commissioner has identified four key priority areas for his Police and Crime Plan; community partnerships; protecting people from harm and putting victims at the heart of justice.
Each designated strand will be led by an accountable senior member of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Northamptonshire Police.
However, prior to confirming these elements, Mr Mold is looking for the view of residents.
He said: “I was elected to represent the people of Northamptonshire and I want as many people as possible to have their say on the strategic direction of Northamptonshire Police and the broader community safety agenda in the county.
“I would therefore urge people to tell us what they want to see in the plan and how they feel we can make their communities safer.”
The consultation – available from October 16 to November 24 at www.YourPCC.co.uk - will be split into three sections with residents, police staff and partner organisations all being given the opportunity to contribute.
Staff from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Northamptonshire Police will also engage directly with harder to reach communities across the county during the consultation period.
The results will then be analysed by the Institute for Public Safety, Crime and Justice and will inform the final version of the plan, which will be published in the coming months.