Drastic cuts doing the public ‘real harm’

29 January 2015

The government is failing in its duty to keep the public safe in the light of figures showing officer numbers at a 14-year low.

Steve White, chair, Police Federation of England and Wales, said the statistics published by the Home Office today, demonstrated the severe pressure officers are under to protect the public and condemned the huge cuts to police budgets responsible.

The figures show that there were 127,075 police officers in England and Wales on 30 September 2014, the lowest number since September 2001 and a fall of a further 1,295 or 1.0 per cent compared to a year earlier. This equates to a drop of 17,000 officers since the budget cuts began in 2010.

Mr White said: ‘If the first duty of government is to protect its citizens, cutting the number of police officers below a level which allows the service to keep the public safe is a strange way for ministers to go about achieving this aim.

‘There can be no doubt that the drastic cuts in force budgets is doing real harm to the ability of the service to protect the public.

‘We hear that crime is falling but this only measures a snapshot of police activity. What we do not hear about is the extreme pressure these government cuts are placing on officers' ability to prevent terrorist attacks, manage sex offenders in the community, protect children from sexual exploitation and return missing persons to their families among other key issues.

‘Officers are at breaking point. You cannot create a better police service by imposing swingeing cuts on its budgets - all that will achieve is to cut the service officers are able to give the public.’