Simmonds’ reservist bid could boost police staffing

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The county’s Police and Crime Commissioner has said he is looking for “new, innovative and imaginative” ways of boosting police numbers.

Adam Simmonds last week published a draft policing plan setting out his key aims and targets for Northamptonshire Police over the next few years.

In it, Mr Simmonds said he aims to protect the number of police in Northamptonshire, which is currently 1,220 full-time equivalents.

He also revealed plans to establish a reservist force of 200 volunteers, who will be trained and paid to work about 20 days a year.

Speaking to the Chronicle & Echo this week, he said: “People tell me, particularly in rural areas, that they don’t hear from police officers and when they do hear from them it is to say ‘We can’t come out’.

“We are not in a financially brilliant state where we can just have 500 more police officers, so I want to give the chief constable more police choices.”

Mr Simmonds compared the planned new role, which he claims to be the first in the UK, with the Territorial Army.

He also pointed to other areas where volunteers have worked, such as the lifeboats and the fire brigade.

He added: “Fifty full-time police officers cost about £2 million. I have to look at more imaginative ways to give the chief constable a greater capacity to protect people.”

Mr Simmonds said he would pay for reservists’ training, their uniforms and pay to keep their skills up-to-date and called for people from “all walks of life” to sign up.

He added: “It is about communities looking after themselves and each other.”

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Adam Simmonds has asked voters to give him the “benefit of the doubt” as he prepares to reveal his first budget.

Mr Simmonds has to present his budget for Northamptonshire Police to the new police and crime panel to consider at the start of February.

He said the challenge was balancing the cost of high visibility policing with that of county-terrorism, online protection and other “frontline” services not often seen by the public. He said: “We have to balance it out.”