'More police needed' to beat recession burglaries

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An extra 2,000 officers will be needed over the next three years to help cope with an expected sharp surge in burglaries because of the recession, the head of a police body said today.

The Police Federation, which represents about 140,000 officers in England and Wales, said its research indicated that property crime would increase by almost 25 per cent in the next two years.

The Federation says this extra demand comes when the number of officers is declining compared to the population as a whole.

The body's chairman Paul McKeever said the number of officers per 100,000 people had dropped from 260 to 254 since 2006 and would be down to 251 by 2012, putting the service under additional pressure.

"With crime rates set to increase as the recession deepens, politicians of all parties need to sit up and take notice of this research, which clearly shows that the resilience of the service will be damaged unless police officer strength is increased over the next three years," he said.

The overall number of officers has been on the rise and the government says there are around 15,000 more than in 1997. The Home Office also says they are taking steps to prevent any surge in crime during the recession.

McKeever predicted that the police would be particularly stretched when the London Olympics are held in 2012.

"How we are expected to deal with the demands this will place upon the service, in addition to the increasing property crime rates with fewer officers per head of population, is beyond me," he said.

"My real fear is that the level of service and protection we will be able to afford the public will be severely affected unless action to address this is taken now."