A NORTH-EAST police force has announced today (Tuesday, December 4) that it has recruited 24 new police officers.

Durham Constabulary said the new recruits will start their training at Aykley Heads, Durham, on February 4, 2013.

They will replace officers who are retiring from the force.

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Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg said: “This is great news for everybody who lives and works in Durham and Darlington.

“Despite our difficult financial position, we recognise that police officers on the streets are what people want.

“Rest assured, we are doing everything we can to maintain our good performance in terms of crime levels, detection rates and public satisfaction. I think that the tax-payer deserves nothing less.”

Faced with swingeing cuts in October 2010, the force announced a two-year recruitment freeze, but pledged its commitment to maintaining officer numbers at 1,370.

Mr Hogg said: “When the force first saw its budget settlement established and the level of cuts required, the force cut very deep straight away to get the bulk of the pain behind them.

“On the back of that we now find ourselves in the position whereby can do some modest degree of recruitment which is totally welcome.”

He added: “We are trying to maintain a level of 1,370 officers and we feel if we can maintain that we will be able to protect neighbourhood policing particularly, but also seek to protect delivery to our communities."

The new officers have been recruited from within the ranks of Police Community Support Officers and special constables.

Welcoming the latest round of recruitments, Chief Constable Mike Barton said “This is great news for the public but bad news for the criminals.

“I am pleased to welcome our latest recruits to what is widely regarded as a high performing force and I am sure that they will serve the public to the best of their abilities.”