I SPENT time this weekend out with our police and I learnt just how thin the thin blue line has become.

I was able to get a clearer picture of life ‘on the beat’ as well as see firsthand the dedication and skill of officers.

My Friday evening was spent with deputy police and crime commissioner, Chris Brierley, Chief Inspector, Special Constabulary Steve Lindsay MBE, and road safety campaigner Charles Pedrick.

We joined the traffic patrol monitoring speeding drivers. Speeding traffic has a real impact on communities.

I also had time to talk about the reality of the Government’s apparent commitments to recruit thousands of new officers.

There is no doubt that we desperately need more police.

Indeed, I learned that on Saturday night it was likely there would only be one PCS0 on duty, covering the whole of the south of our constituency, a large rural area, which includes Cam and Dursley, Berkeley and the surrounding villages.

With staffing at this level, it’s little wonder that constituents don’t always receive the response they expect.

Government recruitment pledges seem hollow and won’t even bring police numbers back to the levels of March 2010. Officer numbers have fallen by 20,500.

But rebuilding our police is not only about numbers. There is a real need for greater investment in technology, as well as boosting staff retention and recognising the complexity of police work.

Police officers are also upported by specials and PCSOs. Officer recruitment would draw from this pool so, whether numbers will increase in real terms remains to be seen.

There are no easy solutions to building safer communities. But investing in community services as well as making sure we have an effective prosecution service are two key steps.