THE number of police officers in West Mercia, which covers Herefordshire, should return to pre-2012 levels by the end of the year, the police and crime commissioner has said.

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said the force is “well ahead” of its target in recruiting the 115 officers he promised when he announced the police precept would increase by almost £20 a year for the average household to pay for them.

Mr Campion said the 115 police officers, on top of the extra 100 officers he had already promised, would return the number of officers employed by West Mercia to 2,145 – an almost seven-year high and the most since early 2012.

He said police officer numbers should pass the 2,000 mark by August and would be up to the target of 2,145 by the end of the calendar year.

In his budget for 2019/20, Mr Campion included a 10 per cent rise for the police precept in his budget – about £1.63 a month for a band D household – to cover the cost of recruiting the extra officers.

Mr Campion said interest in the new jobs had been very impressive and West Mercia had managed to attract applicants without having to lower its standards.

He said: “Some forces have had to lower standards because they have not been able to recruit. West Mercia hasn’t done that.

"The chief constable [Anthony Bangham] should stay the same level and for me that is right."