Police numbers fall to lowest level since 2003, Home Office figures reveal

 

The number of police officers in England and Wales dropped by more than 5,000 last year to its lowest level since 2003, Home Office figures revealed today.

All but one of the 43 forces – Surrey – cut its police strength as Home Office austerity measures continued to bite.

There were 134,101 officers at the end of March, compared with 139,110 exactly 12 months earlier, a drop of 5,009. Total police strength is now down by close to 10,000 over the last two years.

The number of police staff also fell, dropping 8.8 per cent to 67,474, while the total of police community support officers went down by 9 per cent to 14,393.

But the number of volunteer special constables rose by 10.4 per cent to 20,343.

Ministers insist that the impact can be minimised on frontline policing of cuts to budgets and is urging forces to explore ways of improving efficiency and pooling resources.

They say service to the public is largely being maintained and the proportion of officers on the frontline is increasing.

The Policing Minister, Nick Herbert, said: “We inherited a situation where there were some 25,000 officers not on the frontline, so there was plenty of scope for forces to make savings while improving performance, as forces are showing as they continue to drive down crime.”

But Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, said: “These figures show the cuts to the police are deeper and faster even than experts predicted. David Cameron's promise to protect the front line has been ripped apart by these appalling figures. In just two years the Government has taken police numbers back by nearly a decade, weakened police powers, undermined morale and reduced crime prevention.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect