A GROWING number of settlements in rural Cumbria are to benefit from a dedicated police team being stationed in their towns.

Appleby, Shap and Alston are the towns in the county that will benefit most immediately from the announcement.

The expansion has been made possible by a change to council tax bills backed by certain members of Cumbria Police.

Following the nationwide Operation Uplift drive to increase police numbers, the announcement forms part of a move to broaden neighbourhood policing in rural Cumbria.

Commenting on the news this week, Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “I am well aware that the public are reassured and would like to see more of our police officers in their neighbourhoods.

“That is why we took the risk to recruit and train high quality officers early in the summer and our target was achieved.

“I am pleased to note that we have increased the number of officers since I came into office in 2016 from 1,120 to 1,216 as a result of public support through council tax and most recently Operation Uplift, funded from central government.

“This means we are more able to start to base officers back into our smaller towns for the first time in many years.

“These officers will give better service not only to the towns but the surrounding rural areas and our officers based in large towns do not have to travel out to the wider rural communities, everyone should get a better service which is what all officers want to deliver.

“Earlier in the summer officers were redeployed into Brampton, Keswick and Ambleside and this next phase sees a further three towns in Eden: Shap, Appleby and Alston have officers permanently based to really get to grips with local community policing in the towns and surrounding areas.

“Clearly there is still much to do and together with the Chief Constable, I will be doing all I can to ensure that Cumbria gets a fair share of the phase 2 and 3 allocation of officers from Operation Uplift to bring even more officers into Cumbria.”

Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery said: "We have always had officers policing these rural areas – but the increase we have seen in officer numbers gives us the extra resources to increase our effectiveness and visibility.

“This enhancement makes us better able to recognise and tackle community issues, or any other problems that might arise, more quickly.

"We have made this operational decision because neighbourhood policing works better when locally-based officers work in communities, giving them a better understanding of local issues.

“Local officers are more familiar with the geography and able to respond more efficiently and effectively to local concerns.

“It also provides a recognisable presence for people.”

Inspector Mike Taylor is the inspector in charge of these policing teams.

He said: "Having officers based within and dedicated to the communities in which they serve will really benefit those communities.

“These officers will soon become familiar faces in their areas.”