CUMBRIA Constabulary chief constable Michelle Skeer has said the police force in the county is to restructure prior to local government reorganisation.

Ms Skeer told a full meeting of the county council that the force would be splitting into a Westmorland and Furness unit and a Cumberland unit. 

It is not obliged to do this, but Ms Skeer said doing so would assist with partnership working.

She said it was anticipated the restructure would 'go live' later this year 'ready for the changes' in local government.

In April 2023, the county council and all district and borough councils in Cumbria will cease to exist. Two new unitary authorities will begin operating at this time.

Ms Skeer reflected on a 'challenging' two years as part of her report.

She said police had been forced to adapt to 'new legislation and laws at very quick notice'.

She said the policy when dealing with the policing difficulties thrown up by Covid had been 'engaging, explaining, encouraging, enforcement'.

Police had, she told councillors, visited more than 20,000 businesses to provide support and recorded just under 10,000 Covid-related incidents. 

The force has benefited from Operation Uplift, a government-funded drive, announced in 2019, to swell the ranks of police forces in England and Wales by 20,000 over a three-year period. 

Ms Skeer said that, as of June 13, police officer numbers in the county stood at 1,299. She said this was the highest number Cumbria Constabulary had ever had.

She told the meeting Operation Uplift had enabled the constabulary to place officers back out 'on the beat' in rural communities. 

Examples given included Ulverston, Windermere, Ambleside, Kirkby Stephen and Brampton. 

She referenced the challenge of policing this year's Appleby Horse Fair, which was, in terms of attendance, understood to have been the busiest since 2015 and saw a 28 per increase in arrests made. 

Kirkby Stephen councillor Phil Dew said the force had been prepared to 'commit significant resources to the event, which hasn't always been the case'.