BOROUGH bosses say they are pleased police officials have acknowledged officer levels are "disgraceful" in north Kent.

Kent police are committed to putting more bobbies and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) on the beat in Dartford and Gravesend.

And councillors and MPs say it is about time more police officers are provided as the population of north Kent has grown so much.

They say, as Dartford and Gravesend are near London, they suffer more crime and need more policing.

The comments were made after David Ainsworth, Assistant Chief Constable of Kent, spoke publicly last week about the need for more of a police presence in the area.

Mr Ainsworth, who was speaking at the Association of North Kent Neighbourhood Watches' 2006 conference, said the way police are distributed across the borough would get a shake-up to ensure officers are spread equally.

He told News Shopper, although figures are not yet confirmed, residents will soon notice an increased uniformed officer presence in their town.

Gravesham councillor Jean Christie says the Labour group has been arguing the need for extra police for a long time.

She said: "I am pleased at long last Kent police have recognised the argument of Gravesham Council that the north Kent police area is under-resourced.

"From now on we will receive a fairer share of the funding in the fight against crime."

Gravesham MP Adam Holloway says he is pleased Mr Ainsworth and other leading police figures are beginning to realise north Kent has a serious problem.

Mr Holloway said: "I think Kent police accept the level of policing resources in north Kent is what I call disgraceful. The first battle has been won."

Chief Superintendent and area commander Gary Beautridge said: "We are getting 25 support staff to increase our capacity.

"During the course of the year we will get 40 PCSOs to support the community.

"Kent police are supporting the north Kent area."

Mr Ainsworth added: "We are committed to increasing the number of front-line officers serving the Gravesham and Dartford communities.

"Both officer numbers and the number of PCSOs will increase in the north Kent area."