Home Secretary Priti Patel said recruiting new officers into Hertfordshire Constabulary will help "get the basics right in policing" throughout the county.

Ms Patel visited the Hertfordshire police headquarters in Welwyn Garden City on Friday, July 29 to meet 18 student officers at their passing out parade.

Her visit was timed to coincide with the release of new Home Office figures which show that the number of police officers in the country is at its highest level since 2012.

Ms Patel said: "We promised the British public 20,000 more police by March 2023 and that is what we are delivering.

"The total number of officers is now already at a 10-year high, with thousands more still on the way to make our streets safer.

"It means more officers patrolling the streets in Hertfordshire, bearing down on anti-social behaviour and tackling violent crime.

"With the £17 billion investment in policing, my commitment to recruiting, resourcing and training more officers means that police across the country are able to get the basics right in policing which is fighting and preventing crimes of all kinds.

"I congratulate the brave women and men stepping forward to join Hertfordshire Police to serve their communities.

"In return I know they will experience a very rewarding career."

The Home Office figures show that, after a government recruitment project, the number of officers in England and Wales stood at 142,759 in March 2022.

In Hertfordshire, 190 extra police "uplift" officers have been recruited since September 2019 against a target of 304 by March 2023.

Nationwide, 13,790 extra police officers have already been hired across England and Wales as part of a "manifesto commitment" to put 20,000 new officers on the streets by 2023.

Philip Ross, who stood as Labour's Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire in the 2021 election, said he welcomed the recruitment drive following austerity measures throughout the 2010s.

The number of police officers UK-wide shrank from around 172,000 in 2010 to the 150,000 mark in 2015, according to Statista and the government's own figures.

After 2015, the number of offences in England leapt from 3.4 million in the year ending June 2015 to 4.98m in the year to June 2020.

Mr Ross said: "Congratulations to the new recruits on completing their training and 'passing out'.

"They will help promote public safety and the key thing is now that they are paid properly and their development is supported."

He added: "The government is clearly working hard to repair the damage which they caused after the Conservatives were elected 2010, but I think we are still suffering with the effects of those cuts in Hertfordshire.

"Three big concerns where I live are anti-social behaviour, cyber crime and children as young as 12 being drawn into county lines drug dealing.

"Putting more officers on the beat will not solve these issues in an instant, but new staff are desperately required."

The 2021 Police and Crime Commissioner election in the county was won by Conservative Party candidate David Lloyd.

A Home Office spokesperson said its latest dataset shows 42.5 per cent of all new recruits in Hertfordshire are women.

At a national level, 8.1pc of the workforce identify as belonging to an ethnic minority.

The spokesperson said these figures send a message that policing is a "career open to all communities".

New recruit Charlotte, aged 34, worked for Hertfordshire Constabulary's workforce development team for seven years before deciding to train as an officer.

Charlotte said: "I saw the amazing work my colleagues were doing on a daily basis and wanted to be a part of the team making a difference to our communities.

"I can’t wait to put the uniform on, meet my team and start responding to incidents.

"I know some days will be harder than others but if I can make a positive difference to one person, I know I have done a good job."

Chief Constable Charlie Hall said: "It is always a great pleasure to welcome new police officers into the Hertfordshire police family."

He added: "The desire they have to now get out into our communities and make a real positive difference to people is tangible."

Of the 18 new officers who "passed out" on July 29, three officers are headed for Hertsmere and Watford each, two for Cheshunt, Dacorum, St Albans, Stevenage and Three Rivers, and one for North Herts and Welwyn Hatfield.