BARNSLEY is set to receive a share of 220 police constables under plans outlined to grow South Yorkshire’s roster of officers.

Fifty-five have already been planned in this year’s budget as a result of the precept increase.

And an additional 13 are also scheduled to take up their posts during this financial year.

It comes after the force announced last month that numbers of on-the-beat PCSOs across Barnsley will be dramatically reduced, revealing it’s almost halving its current numbers in favour of recruiting more constables.

PCSOs in the county will be reduced by 40 per cent from 194 to 116 but the force say they are set to launch their ‘most significant recruitment drive since 2008’ in the coming weeks as they embark on attracting the ‘highest calibre of recruits’ to fill the posts left.

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Chief Constable Stephen Watson said: “I’m delighted to be able to make this announcement and directly respond to the feedback we consistently receive.

“We know people want to see more officers and we’re pleased to be able to deliver this.

This is great news for the force but most importantly, this is great news for residents.

“By adding these roles we will be better equipped to address the issues which cause the most

concern to local people, and we’ll also be bringing excellent employment opportunities.

“This recruitment drive is a key part of our continuous development.

“Our inspectorate has identified South Yorkshire Police as the most improved force in 2017, again in 2018 and we’re absolutely committed to achieving this in 2019.

“We look forward to welcoming our new recruits to join us on our journey to outstanding.”

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings added: “People tell me they want two things from neighbourhood police - visibility and engagement, which the PCSOs are good at.

“But they also want the power to enforce and arrest which requires police officers.

“Strong neighbourhood teams need the right balance of both PCSOs and police constables.

“However, the erosion of neighbourhood teams and the loss of neighbourhood police constables in the recent past had led to the role of PCSOs becoming inconsistent and too few police constables being available at critical times of the day and the week.

“The current ratio of PCSOs to PCs in neighbourhood teams in Barnsley is two to one.

“By the end of this gradual process, the ratio will have reversed with two PCs to one PCSO. This is a more effective balance.

“This careful rebalancing will take place over the next couple of years and will be a new era for neighbourhood policing.

“There will be greater visibility and engagement and better enforcement at the times when each community wants it.”

Chief Superintendent Scott Green, Barnsley’s district commander, welcomed the announcement.

He told the Chronicle more PCs will enable officers to crackdown on the things that matter the most to residents, including stopping illegal off-road bikers, burglaries and speeding.

“Although it’s still in its early stages and we’re unsure just how many new PCs Barnsley will get, it’s another step in the right direction,” Chf Supt Green said.

“We’ve heavily invested in our neighbourhood policing structure, and Barnsley’s been at the forefront, so it’s something everyone welcomes.”