WEST Yorkshire Police has seen its number of officers increase by more than 200 since a recruitment drive last year, according to latest figures.

Leeds Councillor Matthew Robinson, also the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for next year, welcomed the announcement, calling it one of the “people’s priorities”.

However, the head of the West Yorkshire police officers’ union dubbed this “smoke and mirrors”, claiming the government was simply starting to put back police numbers that had been taken out in the first place.

A statement from the Conservatives announced West Yorkshire Police’s numbers had been bolstered by an extra 222 officers since the Government launched its recruitment drive in September 2019.

West Yorkshire Police Federation's Brian Booth on fine issues

These statistics, the statement claims, confirm the government remains on track to hit its manifesto commitment of 20,000 extra officers by 2023.

It also claimed forces had become more diverse and representative, with the highest proportion of black, Asian and minority ethnic officers, as well as female officers, joining since records began. It did not make clear whether this also applied to West Yorkshire Police specifically.

Head of the West Yorkshire Police Federation Brian Booth said: “I am pleased that we have extra officers, but this is smoke and mirrors.

“We are nowhere near where we were – there are just over 200 extra officers but we will still be around 700 short on 10 years ago.

“We have had 10 years of loads more work for a smaller workforce.

“Now we have local lockdowns, we will have police policing that. The demand has stretched what we have available.

“But I will also say good on them for trying to mend it again, because they could have kept (the numbers of officers) low.”

Coun Robinson said: “Getting more police officers onto our streets is one of the people’s priorities, and so I am delighted that West Yorkshire Police Force has been bolstered with an extra 222 officers so far.

“Every one of these officers will make an enormous difference in helping to cut crime and keep people safe – and I am reassured that many more will follow as this Government continues to deliver on its promise to recruit 20,000 more over the next three years.

“By backing our police with the funding, powers and resources they need, we will keep the public and our communities safe, so that people everywhere can live their lives free from the fear of crime.”