GWENT Police has welcomed 36 new officers since October last year, meaning the force is now close to having the same number of officers before austerity measures were introduced.

The recruitment drive was part of a UK Government commitment to bolster policing numbers after years of austerity.

According to figures released by the Home Office, Wales now has 233 additional police officers from last year October last year to June 2020.

- Eight additional officers for Dyfed-Powys

- 92 additional officers for North Wales

- 97 additional officers for South Wales

Deputy Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman said that despite the coronavirus, officers had been recruited and trained during the pandemic.

It has enabled the force to provide an “effective police service during these challenging times”.

And an additional 26 officers will join the “wider policing family” by the end of the year, she added.

“This takes us closer to the number of officers in role before measures were introduced during a period of austerity.

“We are planning ahead to make sure we use this new capacity to tackle the issues that are most important to our local communities.”

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Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent Jeff Cuthbert said the additional officers will “help rebuild establishment levels following austerity measures that saw the budget of Gwent Police reduced by 40 per cent in real terms”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We are delivering on the people’s priorities – putting more police officers on the streets to keep us safe.

“Our brave police officers have gone above and beyond during the coronavirus pandemic, clearly inspiring many others to join them.

“My support for them remains unwavering – they deserve our utmost gratitude and respect.”