Police forces at record strength

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Police officer numbers hit a record high in England and Wales last year, figures revealed today.

Home Office statistics showed there were nearly 2,000 more full- time officers in 2008/9, including an extra 1,200 constables.

The 43 forces employed 143,770 full-time officers, around 1 per cent more than a year earlier.

Cheaper Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) are being employed at a much faster rate, the figures revealed. Total numbers went up 16,507, or 4 per cent.

The figures suggest public spending constraints have yet to lead to fewer officers and police staff.

Not all forces increased the number of officers they employed, however.

Twenty-seven forces employed more, including an extra 1,100 in the Metropolitan Police, while 16 reported falls in officer strength including both North and South Yorkshire and Humberside.

The number of officers from ethnic minority groups grew by just 0.3 per cent. Ethnic minority officers now make up just over 4 per cent of the total.