In an unprecedented submission, the 43 chief constables of England and Wales plan to tell Mr Blunkett they need the extra officers if they are to deliver on his demands for a 'modern and effective police force'. About half the 20,000 would be full-time officers; the remainder would be part of a newly constituted corps of special constables, who would for the first time receive payments - on the lines of the territorial army.
The increase would be on top of the national complement of 130,000 Mr Blunkett has promised will be in place by the time of the next general election. The reforms could require an extra£1bn from the treasury.
Police chiefs - furious at suggestions from the home office that the police service is inadequate, inefficient and rife with 'Spansih practices' - are effectively calling Mr Blunkett's bluff. Instead of taking the blame for high crime and the public's fear of crime, they will later this month send the home secretary their plan, detailing the price ministers must pay to remedy the problem.