A RECRUITMENT campaign has been launched by North Yorkshire Police after officer numbers dropped by almost 60 in 12 months.

In September 2014, North Yorkshire Police had 1,404 officers, but by September 2015 that number had fallen by four per cent (57), to 1,347 officers. It now stands even lower, at 1,343.

Today, Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan has announced a new recruitment drive which aims to return officer numbers back to 1,400 within two years, and will also increase the number of PCSOs from 183 to 200.

Mrs Mulligan has previously said the force could expect a further drop in officer and staff numbers if police budgets were to fall, but as no cuts were announced in the Government's comprehensive spending review, the funding is now available to take on more officers.

She said: "Our fortunes have significantly improved – shortly before Christmas it would have been necessary to reduce our resources quite considerably over the next few years. I am very pleased to say that we’re now in a completely different position, where we can boost police officer and PCSO numbers.

"However, this does not mean we will hold off the efficiency plans we have in place. The taxpayers of North Yorkshire would expect nothing less and we will continue to work towards delivering major savings by working more effectively. This is still very much the right thing to do, as the consequence is our ability to invest in frontline services, just as we are announcing today."

Mrs Mulligan acknowledged that the recruitment drive and investment could change following the Government's review of the police funding formula, and if that were to change significantly she and Chief Constable Dave Jones "will review our position accordingly".

Mr Jones said the investment was "positive" and "encouraging".

He said: "This time last year we believed that the police service would be facing yet more budget cuts, and that some very tough decisions would have to be made about the size of the service. As it has turned out, the financial picture is much better than anyone could have predicted.

"We have had plans in preparation for a while to boost the level of resources we devote to supporting the most vulnerable people in our society, rural policing and road safety. Now we can get on with delivering those plans, and putting more resource into the areas of greatest risk, without having to reduce our capacity in other areas of the service."