WILTSHIRE Police have responded to recent figures showing that the force has the lowest rate of police officers in the country by saying that the headline figures do not represent the changing dynamic of policing in the county.

While acknowledging the low number of officers, Chief Constable Mike Veale said that force is adapting their approach to technology and staffing to ensure that they provide the most effective service possible with the resources available.

He said: “Wiltshire continues to have the lowest number of officers per 100,000 head of population of the 43 forces in England and Wales.

“This is a position that has remained unchanged in the last three years. In fact you have to go back to 2010 for Wiltshire to be outside the top two smallest forces in terms of officer numbers per 100,000 people.

“However, what these figures don’t show is how we are modernising our approach to policing and to being more efficient and effective in how we deploy our resources to deal with the demands we face.”

Recently released numbers showed that recorded crime rose 10% in 2016/17 over the previous year, with large increases in violent crime, sexual offences and robberies.

Mr Veale insisted that keeping officers on the street is a priority.

He said: “We’re more efficient than ever in the way we use our technology, enabling our officers and staff to work out in their communities and not be tucked away in police stations.

“We’ve also looked at the structure of operational policing in Wiltshire to ensure that we are putting the right people with the right skills in the right place at the right time.

“We’ve got a vast array of police staff employees that contribute a huge amount to the frontline such as Major Crime Investigation Team investigators, local crime investigators and PCSOs.

The chief constable also said highlighted the changing make-up of the modern police force: “We have a growing number of volunteers working alongside our officers, staff and PCSOs.

“These include our volunteer police cadets and members of the special constabulary. These members of the public volunteer their time to help provide further support to frontline policing in our county and they will continue to play a critical role as part of our police ‘family’.

“As a result of this we have been assessed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary as ‘good’ in all areas of its latest annual PEEL inspection. But we can’t be complacent and, now more than ever, it is vital that we make the most effective use of our resources.”

He added: “Whilst the number of officers has declined in the past year, we still have a solid frontline presence and Wiltshire remains one of the safest places to live and work in the country.

“This is testament to the hard work and dedication of our officers and staff; ordinary people who do an extraordinary job on a daily basis.”