CONCERNS have been raised over the "psychological wellbeing" of police officers dealing with increased demands due to years of declining force numbers.

Dorset Police has seen its number of officers drop by hundreds over the past decade.

In terms of police constables alone, from March 2007 to March 2019 the force saw a reduction from 1,215 to 962, a 20.8 per cent decrease.

Anna Harvey, chair of Dorset Police Federation, the staff association representing officers and staff in Dorset Police, said: “Since 2010 we have had austerity measures and a reduction of police numbers – that is not just police officers but also police staff.

“It has had an impact on my members, who often take up the strain.

“Our demands have increased whilst officer numbers have reduced, therefore officers are really struggling to cope with the impact of this, we are also increasingly filling in the gaps for the other services, such as social services, mental health and the ambulance service.

"Officers are dealing with increased complex and violent situations on a more regular basis and this has taken its toll on them in terms of psychological wellbeing."

As reported by the Daily Echo, the start of Boris Johnson's premiership at the helm of the government saw him pledge to deliver 20,000 new police recruits across the UK.

While the policy was a "step in the right direction" according to Ms Harvey, she said there are challenges to deliver the increase.

“The extra funding is welcome, we can recruit more but due to new entry routes into the police service this will be challenging, as you will now either enter and commence a three-year degree apprenticeship or already hold a degree," said Ms Harvey. "Additionally, we don’t have the infrastructure we had previously in terms of training.

“These things take time. If you reduce your workforce in the past nine years, it is going to take a little while for the numbers to start to go back up.

“It is a step in the right direction for the public and members of the force.”

Chief Constable of Dorset Police James Vaughan said the government's announcement of an increase in police funding is "hugely welcoming to hear".

“What isn’t immediately clear is what this means for Dorset Police tangibly, however, it is a big step in the right direction to giving our force greater resilience, visibility and ability to give a first-class service to our communities," said Mr Vaughan.

“Our challenge now is to consider where any new resource should go and how we need to change as an organisation to get the best out of any new posts.

“It has been some significant time since we have had an opportunity to review the totality of policing, where our current demand lies and how we can best future proof the organisation.

“I will be liaising closely with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner over the coming months to progress planning and detail as this becomes clearer from central government.

“The demands on police are growing, while policing itself becomes more complex and criminals themselves more sophisticated. Investment like this can only help us rise to this challenge.”