Hundreds of new police officers will be recruited and a specialist rape and sexual offences team has been created amid soaring crime. 

Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber said Thames Valley Police will be taking on an extra 244 officers in 2022/23 as part of recently revealed budget plans. 

The force also plans to create a specialist rape team for Thames Valley following an increase in reports of sexual offences. 

In 2021/22 sexual offences amounted to 45 percent of all victim-based crime in the Bracknell area.

A Thames Valley Police spokesperson said the new investment will “keep our streets safer and bring more criminals to justice.” 

As well as the increase in everyday officers, 13 officers will be recruited for the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit. 

Mr Barber said: “Beyond the national Police Uplift programme, I will seek to increase numbers to ensure the size of the Force at least keeps pace with our population growth. 

“I’m delighted to have been backed by the Police and Crime Panel with my budget proposal, which will have a direct and very positive impact on frontline policing in our area.” 

As well as the sexual offences team, further plans include improvements in forensics to speed up investigations and bring more criminals to justice, and a dedicated team to fast track cases which will release officers back onto the front line.  

Following the budget meeting, Mr Barber said: “These plans don’t just strengthen the capabilities for the coming year but lay the foundations for investment for the medium term to ensure that as police officer numbers continue to increase. 

The Force is equipped to focus on the crimes that matter most to the public and deliver justice for victims.” 

 John Campbell, Chief Constable for Thames Valley Police, said: “I welcome the Police and Crime Panel’s decision to approve the budget proposals from the Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber. 

“These additional funds will help in our priority areas, including tackling violence against women and girls, investigating the most serious crimes, such as murder, rape and kidnap, and enhancing our forensic capabilities that help to bring offenders to justice.” 

The plans that have been endorsed by the Police and Crime Panel set the policing element of the council tax at £241.28 for a Band D property, meaning an increase of 83p a month. 

Campbell adds: “I understand that with the cost of living increasing, these are tough times for households, so I want to thank residents for all this extra investment, which will help Thames Valley Police continue to keep our communities safe.” 

In a previous interview Barber said they want to concentrate on crime prevention rather than catching crimes.  

“Trying to beat some of those problems and anti-social behaviour that are happening is definitely part of that because more active, visible, local policing will deter anti-social behaviour and often it will stop issues escalating so I think it’s a really important area.” 

Dr Roy Bailey from the Bracknell constituency commented: “Since 20,000 police officers were cut in the last decade, I think that the damage has already been done.

“Community policing really is the bed-rock of the police force and I believe that they should make this their priority instead of response police officers.”

"The Police and Crime panel really had no choice to approve this in order to improve things within Thames Valley policing."