SIXTY new police officers will be trained and deployed across Gwent during the next three years to help ensure that Gwent Police can deliver an effective service.

The new police constables are being recruited internally from existing police community support officers (PCSOs), special constables and other staff, and the programme follows a major restructuring of the way the force operates.

A freeze in recruitment of new officers has been in place in Gwent for almost two years, and it is being stressed that no new money has been made available.

As well as a shake-up of the frontline policing model, supervisory and management roles have been reduced.

“This is a very positive announcement for both Gwent Police and the public who the new officers will eventually serve," said Chief Constable Jeff Farrar.

"The new officers will help replace colleagues who have retired or left the service, and they will be deployed across Gwent in a variety of different roles.

“Whilst we continue to operate in a very challenging financial climate, the public’s expectation of the service they should receive remains quite rightly high. The recruitment of new officers and staff is a key part of our on-going work to adapt the force into a more efficient organisation which provides the public with the best possible service.

"Our long term strategy to adapt to the financial challenges is working, and involves doing things in smarter and more efficient ways. However there is only so much you can only do by working smarter - at some point you need a new intake of officers."

Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent Ian Johnston, said new officers must be recruited to keep the Gwent public safe despite "brutal" funding cuts.

Prudent planning, recognised in a recent report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary had, he added, enabled the streamlining of management structures and the recruiting of existing staff members to replace those who have retired or left.

"In reality this will mean a reduced number of supervisors. This is no mean feat considering the enormity of the financial challenges we face with ongoing public spending cuts," said Mr Johnston.

Gwent Police currently employs 1,222 officers. The first group of 19 trainee PCs will begin training later this year and will be deployed early next year.

Twenty-one officers will be recruited in 2017 and a further 20 in 2018, again through internal measures.