Cuts could see Bobby on the beat replaced by an 'almost paramilitary' police service, warns union chief

Police fear that they could have to make cuts of up to 25 per cent by 2020, which could see the loss of 15,000 officers

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Indy Politics

The traditional British bobby and policing by consent may have to be replaced by a “paramilitary” approach if swingeing cuts are made to a service that is nearly “on its knees”, according to the police union.

Steve White, chair of the Police Federation, told The Guardian that his members feared they would be forced to adopt a more violent strategy to keep the peace because of a lack of numbers.

Police fear that they could have to make cuts of up to 25 per cent by 2020, which could see the loss of 15,000 officers, as the Government tries to cut the deficit.

Mr White said this would leave a force “who you only speak to in the direst of circumstances, a police service almost paramilitary in style”.

 

In order to police by consent, Mr White said officers needed to be able to build up a relationship with local people.

“If you don’t have a relationship, because the officers have been cut, you will lose the consent which means the face and style of policing changes,” he said.

“You get a style of policing where the first options are teargas, rubber bullets and water cannon, which are the last options in the UK.

“The whole service, from top to bottom, is deeply concerned about the ability to provide the service that the public have come to expect over the next five years.

“The concept of the British bobby at the heart of policing will be coming to an end.”

Cuts under the last Government have already meant police forces are struggling to cope, Mr White added.

“The police officers we represent are telling is, day in and day out, that they are close to being on their knees,” he said.

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