A POLICE chief has heralded news that the Government will spearhead a recruitment drive for thousands of officers.

Brighton and Hove Police’s divisional commander Nick May described Boris Johnson’s pledge of 20,000 more across the UK as “good news” adding that “for the first time in many years we are looking at increases in policing”.

He said that the effects of the drive would be felt across Sussex.

Mr May said: “Sussex Police has steadily over the last five or six years not had as many officers because we have not had the money.

“We have a budget and that is what we have to live by.

“(This announcement) will have an impact on making the county safer and it will specifically have an impact in making Brighton safer.

“But the other thing we will be able to do more of is reassurance and visibility.

“That is important and we do recognise that communities and your readers do like to see officers and PCSOs [police community support officers].

“That has been really challenging but if we have more because funding is better then we will do more of it.”

Mr May said that, even before the Prime Minister’s announcement, Sussex Police were looking to expand.

He said: “Even before the additional 20,000, if that’s what it turns out to be, with the precept rise over the last couple of years we are recruiting 100 additional PCSOs in Sussex this year and Brighton gets 23 of these.

“We are also recruiting something like an extra 250 constables, then you add on the numbers that we could get from the Government.

“So, if that comes to pass and we get the funding, there will be increased visibility of officers and PCSOs right across Sussex and particularly in Brighton.”

But he added that it was not just visibility which was important.

Mr May said plain-clothed officers were also key in cracking down on crime.

He said: “What I would also like to say is that this gives us the ability to put more people into plain-clothes operations and ensure we can be more proactive and that we have got the skilled detectives to pick up the crimes, take them to court and get them prosecuted.

“Visibility is really important and people feel reassured by the visibility of officers. However, what is also important for us is that when the visible officers make the arrest, seize the drugs and seize the money, that you have then got officers who are capable and experienced enough to understand the evidence, interview people properly, get them charged, take them to court and then start the process of taking the money off them.”