VIOLENT crime is on the increase as figures reveal more than 1,000 front line officers have been cut from Thames Valley Police in the past three years.

Statistics from the Home Office show that 1,013 officers, in roles categorised as ‘visible operational front line’, have been lost from the force between March 2015 and this year – a drop of 41 per cent.

Over the same period, the number of violent crimes recorded in the Thames Valley increased by 59 per cent.

Latest figures show that in the year leading up to March 2018 a total of 34,482 violent crimes were recorded across the area.

The Police Federation says the reduction in the 'eyes and ears' police services is causing communities to suffer.

In total, there were 1,475 officers in visible front line roles this March. They included 400 neighbourhood officers, who are posted in the community to gather intelligence and provide help at the scene of crimes, and 709 incident response officers.

Across England and Wales, more than 7,000 visible front line officers have been lost over the last three years, a reduction of 11 per cent.

Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter said: “Since 2010, we have lost more than 21,000 police officers with 80 of those being taken from the front line.

“Neighbourhood officers represent the backbone of policing in this country – local officers who are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the service, providing a reassuring presence on the streets helping to detect and prevent crimes.

“As we lose neighbourhood officers we lose the vital investigative and intelligence-gathering roles they perform in our communities.

“The Government has to acknowledge that as violent crime increases, and with the ever-present threat of terrorism, the cuts to the service are coming home to roost and it is our communities that are suffering as a result.”

The Home Office includes a number of other roles as ‘non-visible front line’, such as those involved intelligence-gathering operations. These increased in Thames Valley Police from 1,250 in 2015 to 2,048 this year.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Forces are changing how they deliver local policing to reflect the local priorities and so they can respond better to the changing nature of crime.

“They recognise effective community engagement is more than just having a visible police presence.

“Prevention, partnership working, problem-solving and safeguarding the vulnerable remain key.

“Decisions about front line policing, and how resources are best deployed, are for chief constables and democratically accountable Police and Crime Commissioners.”