A £400,000 overspend has been reported by finance chiefs at Cumbria Police.

More spending on police officer pay and allowances  has put the budget in the red, a meeting in Barrow was told.

The overspend occurred during the first quarter of the new financial year 2018-19.

However, Roger Marshall, joint chief finance officer for both the constabulary and the office of Cumbria police and crime commissioner, said it was intentional.

He told a meeting of the police and crime panel in Barrow: “The biggest reason for the overspend is that we have recruited 25 additional officers.

“We had planned to take these on as part of the commissioner’s pledge and we wanted to get those in as early possible.

“It’s a conscious decision to get them in and start providing the people of Cumbria with the service.

“We have taken those officers in earlier so we have reached an overspend earlier in the year. It is a benefit to make sure we can get them working in neighbourhoods.”

Overspending on certain budgets are often balanced out by underspending in other areas.

Mr Marshall said constabulary spending on Police Community Support Officers, or PCSOs, had fallen over the same period.

“We are actually showing an underspend on PCSOs and the reason for that is that a number of them have joined the officer ranks as part of our police officer recruitment,” said Mr Marshall.

“The underspend on PCSOs is just the knock-on effect of that.”

Mr Marshall said Cumbria Police also had a number of vacancies in civilian police staff posts.

Another hit on the police budget this year has been the spiralling cost of fuel for its transport fleet, with Mr Marshall saying costs had gone up “significantly”.

“I expect these figures to rise in the next quarter. I think they will be higher but we are looking at ways we can manage it. It’s just a general pressure on costs from a number of different directions,” said Mr Marshall.

The 25 extra officers were recruited this year after the public supported a 5.4 per cent increase in the share of council tax used to pay for the police.

Crime commissioner Peter McCall, said he had been out with the new 25  neighbourhood police officers in Barrow, Alston, Kendal, West Cumbria and Eden.

“They are being targeted into local issues that local folk have raised – anti-social behaviour, speeding and kids misbehaving. I know 25 doesn’t sound a lot but the inspectors tell me they are definitely making a difference because it’s officers they didn’t have before, and I am pleased that they are out there feeling collars and nicking people.”