Fall in police officer numbers

The number of police officers in England and Wales fell by more than 2,500 last year, the first significant fall for at least six years, figures showed today.

There were 142,363 officers on September 30, a drop of 1.7% compared with the previous year, the Home Office figures showed.



The fall in numbers comes amid fears of further job losses over the next four years as the police grants are cut by 20% under the Government's spending review.





The number of police officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) were both down, but the number of special constables - volunteers - rose 15.5% to 16,772, the figures showed.



But despite the falls, which saw PCSO numbers drop 2.6% to 16,376, there were still 566 more police officers in September last year than three years ago.







Policing and criminal justice minister Nick Herbert said: "It's not surprising that many forces have suspended recruitment after the economic downturn, and some had stopped recruiting officers before the last government left office.



"Having reached record numbers in the police workforce, forces can and must make savings in their back and middle offices, prioritising the front line and prioritising visible policing."







The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said it was inevitable that police numbers would fall further over the next four years as forces freeze recruitment and officers continue to retire or leave.



Chief Constable Peter Fahy, the Acpo lead for workforce development, said: "The challenge is to maintain those parts of the service which are most valued by the public while reducing bureaucracy and unproductive activity.



"This has to be a debate not about officer numbers but about what officers spend their time doing and the overall impact of funding reductions on public confidence in policing.



"The way policing is organised and delivered will have to change significantly as this reduction in officers takes hold."







The Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank-and-file officers, warned that the fall was "just the start of a long slippery slope".



Vice-chairman Simon Reed said: "We take no pleasure in seeing our prediction become reality.



"It's naive of the Government to think they are replacing like for like by increasing numbers of special constables by 2,000 whilst cutting police officer numbers by 2,500.



"Special constables are there to support police officers, not replace them.



"Let's not forget, many specials have full-time jobs and do policing on a voluntary basis, free of charge, as and when they can; for most that may be no more than two or three days per month.



"The Government is jeopardising public safety if they continue to decimate the number of full-time police officers serving communities across England and Wales."



Shadow policing minister Vernon Coaker added: "These figures highlight what we already knew - that choices being made by this Tory-led Government mean cuts to police numbers across the country.



"We committed to protect frontline policing in our manifesto but this Conservative-led Government seems to be intent on seeing fewer police officers tackling crime and anti-social behaviour on our streets.



"Our big worry is that this is only the start of what could become much worse news on police numbers."









The Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales said it was now "inevitable" that frontline services would suffer from the Government's cuts.



Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis, the association's vice president, added that it was disappointing to see police numbers fall "in such dramatic fashion".



"We were aware that forces were making cuts even before the details of the Comprehensive Spending Review were announced and these figures reflect that stark reality," she said.



"It is most disturbing to think that forces will now have to cut their workforce even further and it appears inevitable now that frontline services will suffer given the level of cuts chief officers have to find, particularly over the next two years, in order to balance the books.



"Our members will continue to lead officers and staff to protect communities and last week's reduction in crime shows that their efforts are making an impact.



"However, resources are clearly being stretched and we must continue to forge strong alliances with our partners in these challenging times to maintain the high level of service our communities currently receive."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
News
people
Life and Style
tech
News
Justin Bieber performing in Paris earlier this year
people
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Accounts Assistant, Hammersmith

£25000 per annum: Charter Selection: Exciting sports company with a strong bra...

Executive Assistant - London - up to £40,000 + bonus

£33000 - £40000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Executive Assista...

Social Media Director (Global) - London Bridge/Southwark

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Social Media Director (Gl...

HR Advisor - 6 months FTC Wimbledon, SW London

£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - 6 Months Fix...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil