Most police lost are from frontline


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The Independent Online

Nine out of 10 police officers lost in the last year were from the frontline, figures have showed.

It comes as police numbers in England and Wales fell to their lowest level in more than a decade amid predictions that the Government's 20% budget cuts will see the loss of 16,000 police officers by 2015.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper called for Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May to "set out a plan to cut crime instead of just cutting police officers".

Some 4,100 of the 4,600 officers lost between March 2010 and 2010 were from the frontline, an analysis of figures published by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) showed.

The number of officers on the frontline in 2010/11 stood at 114,994, down from 119,155 in 2009/10, while the number of officers in support functions fell from 24,602 in 2009/10 to 24,116 last year, the figures showed.

The data showed the proportion of officers on the frontline in each of the years was about 83%.

At Prime Minister's Questions today, David Cameron said "the proportion of officers on the frontline is up", but this was disputed by Labour.

Ms Cooper said: "The Prime Minister's claim that the proportion of frontline officers has gone up was both wrong and out of touch.

"For a start, communities want to know about police numbers not just the proportion on the frontline.

"Over 4,000 officers have gone from frontline jobs in the first year of the Tory-led Government alone.

"This Government is cutting the police too far and too fast. We have continually warned that cutting 20% from the police budget and cutting 16,000 police officers across the country would have a damaging impact on the frontline.

"The Government should switch to our plans for a 12% cut to the police budget so that the number of police officers and frontline services can be protected."

But Policing Minister Nick Herbert defended the Government's package of pay reforms and efficiencies in the Commons, insisting numbers were not the only factor in improving frontline policing.

"We all need to work hard to stay on top of crime," he said.

"But Labour cannot claim overall crime is rising or that falling police numbers are causing crime to rise. They can't claim it because it is not true.

"They cannot attack the cuts when they back cuts on the same scale."