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Force rise welcomed.

Byline: Laura Nicklin

MORE bobbies are to pound the South Wales beat - but a Cardiff Neighbourhood Watch chief has given the news a cool response.

Home Secretary David Blunkett yesterday announced his latest weapon in the battle against crime by announcing South Wales Police is to recruit 212 new officers.

That takes the total number of officers in the force up to 3,241.

But John Munton, Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator for Cardiff, told the Echo: "This is old news.

"It seems very convenient to release these figures at a time when the Government is pushing police reform legislation through Parliament.

"Of course, as a Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator I welcome this rise. It is always nice to see more bobbies on the beat and their presence has been noted.

"But there is still more to do."

Mr Munton expressed concerns that the need for more officers on the street may mean more unqualified people doing traditionally police work.

He said: "We don't need any more of these community officers doing the job of the police.

"We have a professional police force and we should leave the law and order issues to them."

South Wales Police Deputy Chief Constable Paul Woods said: "Over the past few years, South Wales Police has invested significantly in increasing the number of front line officers and yesterday's news is very welcome.

"The extra officers have been dedicated to operational policing, furthering our efforts to meet the challenging targets we have set for crime reduction, particularly in vehicle crime and burglary."

In comparison to the figures for South Wales, North Wales Police has recruited 98 officers, Dyfed Powys 53 and Gwent just 33.

The largest increase in the UK was for the Metropolitan Police - up by 680 - a 2.8 per cent rise.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Blunkett said he was looking at ways of making the job of police officer more attractive to recruits, and said his aim was to "strip away outmoded and restricted practices".

CAPTION(S):

ON THE BEAT Home Secretary David Blunkett has promised extra officers for South Wales Police. PICTURE: Echo photographer
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 19, 2001
Words:349
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