Rise in number of police officers in Merseyside
The number of police officers in Merseyside has risen since the Government's recruitment drive ended, new figures show.
This is despite the total number of officers across England and Wales falling just months after the Government hailed a campaign to hire thousands of new recruits.
Home Office figures show there were 4,190 Merseyside Police officers in September.
It was an increase from 4,171 six months earlier in March, and up from September 2022, when 4,093 were recorded.
Across England and Wales, the total number of police stood at 149,164 at the end of September 2023, down 402 from 149,566 at the end of March.
While this is still above 144,346 a year earlier in September 2022, it means the head count is no longer at the highest level since current records began in 2003.
The Home Office said the new workforce figures show the total number of officers is still above its target and "maintains the additional 20,000 police officers recruited".
The figures also show a drop of 330 in the number of National Crime Agency (NCA) officers between March and September 2023.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said these "bombshell" statistics show the Conservatives "cannot be trusted to keep our streets or our borders safe".
She added: "Not content with cutting bobbies on the beat from our local communities, they are now cutting NCA officers too – the law enforcement body responsible for smashing the smuggling gangs operating in the Channel."
If voted into power, Ms Cooper vowed Labour would "restore order to the border, establish a new police unit to smash the smuggler gangs and put neighbourhood police back on our streets to keep our local communities safe".
But a Home Office source hit back, accusing Labour of having "no plan to protect our people or our borders".
"We’ve recruited more police officers and kept our streets safer than Labour ever managed, and our plan to stop the boats is working," they added.
Former prime minister Boris Johnson said in September 2019, the Government was committing to recruit 20,000 police officers in England and Wales – based on head count – by the end of March 2023.
This target was set against a baseline of 128,433 officers, meaning the latest head count figure of 149,164 still represents an increase on the baseline of more than 20,000.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We are absolutely committed to keeping our borders and streets safe.
"The Government has delivered its commitment to recruit 20,000 additional police officers and this is being maintained, with over 3,000 more officers protecting communities than in 2010 – the previous peak before our unprecedented recruitment drive."
They added Channel crossings were down by more than a third last year and said there was a significant increase in staff to the Small Boats Operational Command.