Police numbers lowest for a decade

New figures show police officer numbers are at their lowest level in a decade

New figures show police officer numbers are at their lowest level in a decade

First published in National News © by

The number of police officers serving in England and Wales has hit its lowest level in a decade, Home Office figures show.

There were 131,837 officers in the 43 police forces at the end of September, down 4,001 or 2.9% on the previous year and fewer than at any point since 2002. The number of police staff was also down, dropping 4.9% or 3,406 to 65,992.

The figures come amid a period of upheaval for police as forces deal with 20% budget cuts and the Home Office ushers through a series of reforms which include a £4,000 pay cut for new starters.

Policing minister Damian Green said: "Our police reforms are working, crime is down 10% under this government and public confidence is up. We set the police a challenge - to cut crime while playing their part in reducing the country's record deficit. Thanks to the efforts of officers, the leadership of chief constables and our radical reform of policing that challenge is being met."

The number of police community support officers (PCSOs) also fell, down 6.9% or 1,070 on the previous year to 14,411, while the number of special constables - volunteers - also fell 1.3% or 248 to 19,159.

Only one force - Surrey Police - saw an increase in its numbers over the 12 months to September, rising by 1% or 20 to 1,981. However, Surrey had a local policing target to increase constable numbers after it underwent reductions in officer numbers between 2006 and 2009.

The biggest falls came in Dorset and Warwickshire, where police officer numbers fell 5.9% to 1,337 and 5.9% to 827 respectively.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said cuts to policing were making it harder for officers to "catch criminals and deliver justice". She said 30,000 fewer crimes were solved under the current Government in the last year, including 7,000 crimes of violence against the person.

Ms Cooper said: "Under Theresa May's policies there are fewer police on the streets and fewer crimes being solved."

She added: "The Home Secretary is completely out of touch with communities. Thousands more victims are being denied justice, thousands more criminals are getting away with it, yet Theresa May thinks this is a good time to cut thousands more police."

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