Fall in police numbers came despite Tory pledges

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The Independent Online
The number of police officers in England and Wales has fallen in the past year by 321 despite government pledges to increase the total, the Home Office revealed yesterday. It was also disclosed that the number of Specials - part-time volunteer police officers - has declined by 204 in 1995, at a time when the Government had spent pounds 4m in an attempt to recruit a further 10,000.

Labour will seize on this information as useful ammunition in the run- up to the election, in which law and order is one of the key issues. The Tories pledged an extra 1,000 full-time officers in their 1992 election manifesto and John Major promised in 1995 to provide 5,000 extra officers in the next three years. But figures released yesterday in the Home Office's Annual Report 1997, which gives their spending plans for up to the end of the century, show a drop of 321 in the past 12 months to 126,901. The report said that had been expected that police strengths would rise in 1995-96 by 900 officers, but they had gone up by only 544 constables. But this was offset by a reduction in 865 higher-ranking officers as part of cuts in the management structure. J

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