Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner has announced plans to recruit 100 new police officers into Lancashire Constabulary.
It is the first time external candidates have had the chance to apply to join the force for five years, and Clive Grunshaw said bringing new officers in demonstrates his commitment to frontline policing.
However, both the Commissioner and the county's Deputy Chief Constable, Andy Rhodes, stressed the decision to recruit does not mean the overall number of officers in Lancashire is increasing.
Mr Grunshaw has previously announced the total number of officers in the county will reduce by 700 by 2017 and that remains the case, as Lancashire Constabulary continues to deal with almost £80m of Government cuts.
The Commissioner said: "I have made no secret of the fact these are challenging times financially for Lancashire Constabulary and, despite all the savings which have been made so far, the force still needs to find almost £20m.
"However, these cuts do not mean the Constabulary can stand still, and that is why I am announcing the decision to recruit 100 new officers over the next 18 months.
"This decision gives us an excellent opportunity to bring new people into the force, and it also provides us with a chance to ensure we continue to develop a force which is representative of the communities it serves.
"But I must be very clear – I told residents I could not give them more police officers, and that remains the case. The number of officers in the force will reduce by 700 overall by 2017, but as we downsize the Chief Constable and I have a duty to maintain the resilience of the force. That means making sure we do not lose more than 700 officers through natural turnover – and that will be the case if we do not act now to recruit.
"This recruitment window does not detract from the difficulties the force is facing, however it demonstrates our commitment to maintaining the strength of Lancashire's frontline policing provision - an area of policing which is highly valued by the public."
DCC Andy Rhodes said: “Opening the doors to external police officer recruits is a positive move for the Constabulary and for Lancashire communities. We need to recruit to remain operationally resilient and at the same time we need to be representative of the communities we serve. We know people want to join us as police officers and they have been unable to do so for nearly five years but now is their chance. There will be fierce competition which is great news for us and for the communities of Lancashire, as it means we will only accept the best.”
The recruitment window will open at 11am on Thursday morning, and the Constabulary's Human Resources department will issue 500 recruitment packs to prospective candidates.
All the recruitment criteria and eligibility information is now available on Lancashire Constabulary's website – www.lancashire.police.uk .
Applicants should call 0845 155 5666 on Thursday to obtain a recruitment pack. Once all the packs have been issued a message will be put on informing prospective candidates the recruitment window is now closed.
If there are not 100 successful applicants in this round, a second recruitment window will be advertised at a later date.