In his first week as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson made the pledge to increase police numbers and said recruitment to get more officers on the street would start in September amid public concern over rising violent crime.

Speaking about the plan, he said: “My job as Prime Minister is to make our streets safer. People want to see more officers in their neighbourhoods, protecting the public and cutting crime. I promised 20,000 extra officers and that recruitment will now start in earnest.”

Home secretary Priti Patel, whose parents ran a chain of newsagents, added: “The rise we’ve seen in serious violence is deeply worrying. An additional 20,000 officers sends a clear message that we are committed to giving police the resources they need to tackle the scourge of crime.”

A new national policing board will be established to oversee the work, with the Home Office given responsibility for hitting the target.

Welcoming the news, NFRN national president Stuart Reddish said: “Independent retailers are suffering from unprecedented levels of physical and verbal abuse, as well as theft from their shops, which has been made worse by the lack of police resources. We always urge our members to report crime incidents, but we know many do not do so because they believe that falling police numbers mean they will not receive a response.

“An increase in police numbers is, therefore, very welcome and we will work with the government to ensure retailers are given the protection that they need.”

However, concerns are already being raised about the ability to deliver the government’s pledge, with new policing minister Kit Malthouse, who served as London’s deputy mayor for policing under Johnson, stating that the target is achievable, but has “logistical challenges”.  

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