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UK Politics

Police to lose '10,000 officers by 2012'

More than 10,000 police officers in England and Wales are to be cut over the next two years according to figures obtained by the Labour Party, it was reported today.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the job losses showed the "shocking and brutal reality" of the Government's spending cuts.

The spending review set police budget cuts at 20% by 2014-15..

Ms Cooper was quoted in various reports saying: "These figures show the shocking and brutal reality of the 20% police cuts.

"Far from protecting frontline policing as ministers promised, over 10,000 police officers are being cut in the next few years alone.

"That's 10,000 fewer police officers fighting crime, solving serious cases, or keeping our country safe.

"Cutting so fast and so deep into police budgets is crazy. It is completely out of touch with communities across the country who want to keep bobbies on the beat," said Ms Cooper.

"How do they think it helps the fight against crime to force so many experienced police officers onto their pensions or trained police community support officers onto the dole, leaving the rest of the force overstretched as a result?

"Chief constables are being put in an impossible position. They are working hard to fight crime, but the government is pulling the rug from underneath them."

The Government has said it aims to avoid any reduction in the visibility and availability of police on the streets.

It has said what matters is not the total size of the police workforce but the efficiency and effectiveness of its deployment.

According to the figures a total of 10,190 police officers are to be cut.

The Labour Party said: "These figures expose the claim from the Tory-led Government that they can cut the Police budget by 20% and still protect the frontline as false."

It said in addition to cutting full-time police officers, thousands of staff jobs would also have to go.

The research looked at all 42 police authorities except for British Transport Police.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said they would not be commenting as the matter was a "political issue" but referred to the statement given following the spending review.

Last December ACPO lead for finance and resources, Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell, said: "These figures make clear that there are difficult choices ahead - for the police service, for police partners and for Government.

"The cumulative impact of cutting police budgets year-on-year will translate into reductions of police officers and staff across the service.

"The extent of the cuts will depend on the financial circumstances of each force and the different reliance that each force has on local and central funding streams."

An ACPO spokeswoman added: "Every chief officer remains committed to doing all they can to protect frontline service delivery to the public, including those parts of policing which the public see at work in neighbourhoods every day, but also the less visible but equally critical policing work, from counter-terrorism to public protection, which together help keep people safe."

Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "The reality of the consequences of such harsh cuts to the frontline is finally hitting home.

"We have in the past been accused of scaremongering when we voiced our very real concerns. We were not.

"Such harsh cuts to policing will result in a change for the worst which could compromise public safety."

Ms Cooper said the figures published today were "only the beginning". They were a partial picture because only two-thirds of forces had announced their cuts in officers.

"Unfortunately this is only the beginning," she said.

"A third of all police forces have not yet announced cuts for next year, and those that have announced are mostly only for the next two years indicating there could be more to come."