Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan is quite clear. He says that Hampshire police and crime commissioner Michael Lane assured him that a £24-a-year per person council tax increase would result in 200 new police officers out on our streets fighting crime.
Manwhile publicity leaflets promised there would be ‘200 new officers, 65 police staff investigators and training for PCSOs’. People were sold a plan in which the millions of extra pounds raised by the police precept would mean extra officers tackling local crime.
But today we reveal that the number of PCSOs will actually drop from about 330 to 236 in just over a year.
Meanwhile police bosses have recruited 210 officers, but admitted there will be just ‘80 extra’ overall because the remaining 130 are filling longstanding vacancies and replacing people retiring.
The thinking behind the cut in PCSOs is that it will enable the force to prioritise warranted officers to tackle crimes such as domestic abuse, drug-linked stabbings, exploitation and going after criminals 'at the top of the food chain’. It's about changing the balance between PCSOs and PCs.
But the concern has to be that it will put pressure on neighbourhood policing, the kind of visible, reassuring presence that many in our communities want to see. It's not long ago that PCSO numbers were ringfenced, such was their importance to county policing.
Mr Lane says that not imposing the tax increase would have meant a further cut to officernumbers overall.
Yet it's hardly surprising that those who voted for it say they did so based on the figures given.
The minimum they will now expect is that Mr Lane keeps a close eye on the county force to ensure the new officer posts are making a difference in terms of tackling crime, making arrests and keeping people safe.