THE new chief of Cheshire Police says he is determined to keep as ‘many officers as possible’ on the streets during budget cuts.

Simon Byrne was confirmed as Chief Constable during a meeting with local authority officials and John Dwyer, Police and Crime Commissioner, at Cheshire Police headquarters in Winsford.

He will replace the retiring Dave Whatton on June 25, and says neighbourhood patrols are a priority, despite plans by Mr Dwyer to reduce police officer numbers by 50 by March 2015.

Mr Byrne said: “It’s about keeping an open mind about officer numbers. I have got £200 million to make sure we keep the front line visible. I won’t rule out the fact we can invest more in frontline policing, but if we do we may be losing something somewhere else.

“The direction has been set about the number of police officers across the constabulary.

“I want to keep as many officers on patrol as possible. When you see the officer on the street is how most people feel safe.”

Mr Byrne is joining Cheshire Police from his role as Assistant Commissioner with London Metropolitan Police.

He has also carried out senior roles with Merseyside Police and Greater Manchester Police, but says he is excited by his first role of overall leadership.

The Cheshire family man said: “I have lived in the area off and on for 40 years.

“There is that slightly different feeling when you get up in the morning that work you are doing is helping to keep people safe where you live.

“I’m a strong advocate of neighbourhood policing and I want to bring that experience here. I’m excited by the challenge.”

Mr Byrne is targeting violent crime and anti-social behaviour, and plans to visit the community in the town before starting the job.

He added: “It’s about recognising that broadly the public want us to do more about violent crime and ASB, which covers a variety of ills.

“I’m going to spend more time in the county and use that time wisely, and meet, where I can, the community to find out what issues there are first hand.”