Former chief warns officer decline will become worse in the coming years.
Continuous cuts to the numbers of officers and staff is set to â€œbecome the new normalityâ€ over the coming years as the squeeze on force budgets continues, a former ACPO officer has claimed.
Dr Tim Brain â€“ who served as the chief constable of Gloucestershire Constabulary â€“ said that the latest personnel figures represent the continuation of a downward trend that will get worse in the coming years.
As previously reported, latest statistics from the Home Office for England and Wales showed there were 128,531 officers as of September last year. This followed the loss of 3,488 personnel â€“ a 2.6 per cent drop â€“ with 36 forces recording a fall in manpower. The levels of personnel are now broadly the same as in 2002.
However, Dr Brain (pictured) said the picture was even bleaker when combined with the attrition rate for police staff, with just under 1,300 lost along with nearly 860 PCSOs.
He also said some forces had been hit harder than others, with Bedfordshire Police suffering a seven per cent reduction in officers and Gloucestershire just under six per cent.
Dr Brain said: â€œOne or two forces have recorded net increases in numbers over the year but others have seen some significant losses â€“ this is not the end, there is more to come.
â€œThe trend will continue until we have a different policy on public spending in place. Even if Labour wins the next election, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has said he will run a balanced budget. I can see officer numbers falling for at least three more years.â€
Dr Brain â€“ who has recently spelled out some grim predictions for manpower in his book The Future for Policing in England and Wales â€“ said reductions would be â€œthe new normalityâ€.
He added: â€œThe latest figures show quite a lot of movement, with some extreme examples when you look at the statistics for the individual forces across England and Wales.â€
Jon Collins, Deputy Director of the Police Foundation, said the statistics highlighted the pressures policing is now under â€“ adding that chiefs would be under pressure to ensure they deployed dwindling resources effectively over the coming years.
He said: â€œIt is also worth noting that the number of police officers has already fallen below the level anticipated by Her Majestyâ€™s Inspectorate of Constabulary for March 2015.
â€œWhile it was always expected that the vast majority of cuts in officer numbers would have been made by now, this may mean that the overall reduction will be slightly higher than expected.â€
The national policing lead for Workforce Development, Chief Constable Mike Cunningham, said he was not surprised that officer numbers continue to fall in light of cuts to budgets.
But he added: â€œThe effectiveness of policing cannot be measured by the number of officers and staff alone, and the service has risen to the challenge of dealing with significant financial restraints and continued to maintain the protection of the public.â€
Falling officer numbers â€˜are the new normalityâ€™