THE police commissioner for Thames Valley may require a full-time deputy as the nature of crime prevention grows increasingly complex.

Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said the ever-growing workload dealt with by his office is reaching a stage where a full-time deputy will be necessary.

Currently Matthew Barber, who is also the leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, holds the role on a part-time basis.

The issue was raised at a recent meeting of the police and crime panel by Oxford city councillor Tom Hayes, who asked whether a full-time deputy would become a requirement.

During the meeting, Mr Stansfeld said that when he first started as police and crime commissioner (PCC) it had been a case of 'suck it and see' whether a deputy was needed and that, with the extensive commissioning of services currently taking place, it was becoming clear that more support would be required.

He added: "We're moving to the situation where a full-time deputy is necessary, certainly not immediately, but perhaps next year we will have to go to that step."

Mr Hayes agreed that a full-time deputy was needed but did raise some questions about the position of Mr Barber.

Speaking after the meeting of the panel on November 17, he said: "It's pretty remarkable that the commissioner has tried to manage his bulging workload without a full-time deputy for five years. "Thames Valley is a huge police force area serving more than two million people, plus six million visitors, across all of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.

"We're seeing an enormous change in policing, with government budget cuts that amount to £87m per year and a significant change in the types of crime police are dealing with.

"The prevention of child sexual abuse, modern slavery and drugs supply is complex and time consuming.

"If the commissioner is serious about the police force tackling crime in an age of budget cuts he needs a full-time deputy.

"But the current deputy surely cannot find the time to continue on as a councillor, lead the Vale of White Horse District Council and be full-time deputy."

Mr Barber has yet to respond to repeated requests for comment from the Oxford Mail.

Police and crime commissioners were created by the Coalition Government and are responsible for making sure police forces are effective and holding the chief constable to account.

Mr Stansfeld is the only person to have held the role in Thames Valley, have been re-elected last year.

Mr Stansfeld, speaking after the meeting, talked about his ever growing workload but emphasised that no decision has been made.

He said: "Since police and crime commissioners were created, the number of responsibilities they have has continued to increase.

"This includes their role in commissioning support for the victims of crime.

"If the role of the PCC continues to expand there may well come a time that the deputy PCC position will need to become a full-time one to reflect this.

"However, no decision has been taken on this."