The main police union has welcomed Boris Johnson’s pledge to start recruiting 20,000 extra officers “forthwith”.
But the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank and file officers, warned it will take many years and a “significant amount of funding”.
The federation’s national chairman John Apter welcomed the promise but stressed it was not going to be a “quick fix”.
He said: “I will hold him to his promise.
“However, this is certainly not a quick fix and will not only take many years to achieve but also a significant amount of funding.
“While police officer numbers matter, policing and those who deliver it need much more from Government.
“They need genuine support and respect, something which has been lacking from the outgoing Prime Minister. This must change.
“Moving forward, I hope the federation can build a positive relationship with Mr Johnson and his cabinet to slowly begin to undo years of damage inflicted on the police service.
“Our members and the public deserve better.”
Mr Johnson’s pledge echoes that of one of his rivals in the Tory leadership race Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who promised to recruit 20,000 more police officers if he became Prime Minister.
Mr Javid – who has been touted as a possible chancellor under Mr Johnson – said he would spend £1 billion over three years to put “police on the beat” and end a “culture of impunity” among criminals.
A string of fatal teen stabbings sparked a heated debate earlier this year about police numbers in England and Wales, which have dropped by more than 20,000 since 2009.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May came under fire after she said there “was no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers”.
The cut in numbers coincided with her time as Home Secretary.