WELSH Labour says it will "safeguard community policing" by funding an extra 100 community support officers, if the party is re-elected in May.

The Welsh Government currently funds 500 PCSOs (police community support officers) and Labour says it will increase the ranks to 600 if returned to power.

Policing is not devolved to Wales, but first minister and Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford said his party had "stepped in" to fund the 500 PCSOs "as the Tories inflicted a decade of cuts to policing across the UK".

He vowed Labour would "strengthen our support for safer communities" and make the streets safer. The party has made the issue one of its six key pledges for this election campaign.

“It is crucial that anyone who wants to be first minister of Wales puts keeping people safe at the top of their agenda," Mr Drakeford said.

His party also claims the Welsh Conservatives would scrap funding for the 500 PCSOs currently paid for by Cardiff Bay – something the Tories deny.

The Welsh Tories have previously said they would draw a line between what is devolved to Wales and what is the responsibility of Westminster.

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Labour says this policy would lead to the defunding of the policing scheme and "Wales would lose the 500 PCSOs currently patrolling our streets".

But the Conservatives have dismissed the suggestion, calling it "inaccurate and deliberately misleading," and said they would continue to fund the 500 officers under the devolved area of 'community safety'.

Mark Isherwood MS, who represents the Conservatives in the North Wales region, cited the UK government's ongoing scheme to boost police numbers in Wales and England, and called the Labour claims "empty rhetoric".

Welsh Labour's election focus on community safety comes as as the UK Labour Party makes a similar push on law and order.

Nick Thomas-Symonds, the Torfaen MP and shadow home secretary, told Sky News that "strategic leadership" was needed to confront the rise of so-called 'county lines' networks, through which young people are being exploited and drawn into drug trafficking and other criminality by gangs of dealers.

He told Sophy Ridge on Sunday that the Labour Party's new plan for tackling violent crime would involve "more police on streets, not behind desks" as well as more support for preventative services and a "victims' law" to ensure people received proper support while criminals were brought to justice.