POLICE in North Yorkshire have axed up to150 civilian staff over the past two years - but could still be overstaffed by up to 200 compared to other forces.

The figures were revealed by the county's police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan, who has called for a major new approach on how the force meets the challenges of modern crime.

Better than expected government grants mean the force is maintaining its 1,400 police officers and 200 community support staff.

The figures came as Mrs Mulligan won approval for an increase in the police share of the council tax by £11.50 to £232, from the Police and Crime Panel - which will come on top of £1,248 for average Band D properties.

The police budget is £157m this year with 55 per cent from the government and the rest from council taxpayers. They are also looking at finding £10m in savings over the next few years.

But Mrs Mulligan said there needed to be a debate about the challenges and the focus on police officer numbers.

She said: "There are a lot of challenges the police force has to deal with. We are going to go through a significant programme of change that will be initiated in a very short time.

“There is a big debate about whether you need to be a warrant officer to do certain roles, so the chief is looking very carefully at all of the demands on the service and the skills needed in the long term, so we can make sure the force has the ability and capacity to deal with the changing nature of crime such as fraud and all of these types of things.

“The police force needs to be much more sophisticated about who does what. We should get away from this thing around police officer numbers, it isn’t helpful, what you need are the skills and capability to do the jobs.

"I know this is controversial but that is something we need to think about. Does a person sitting at a computer investigating child sexual exploitation need a warrant card?”

Chief financial officer Michael Porter said: "It is important to realise the organisation won’t stand still.

"Our assessments would indicate there are 150 to 200 more staff than we would expect in benchmarks against other forces in the UK. We are looking at whether people are in the right areas to deliver the public services we want.”

The panel was told the PCC is looking at distributing a leaflet with the council tax demands explaining how the budget is spent.