1,000 po­lice of­fi­cers lost as crime lev­els soar

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - News - ALEX ROSS alex.ross@reach­plc.com

THE West Coun­try has lost more than 1,000 po­lice of­fi­cers in just seven years – and Wilt­shire has been left with the fewest of­fi­cers per 100,000 peo­ple in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to shock new fig­ures.

The Gov­ern­ment-pub­lished Po­lice Ser­vice Strength pa­per re­veals dra­matic drops in polic­ing num­bers across the re­gion’s four forces.

The big­gest fall pro­por­tion­ally in polic­ing num­bers was at Dorset Po­lice, 20 per cent down from 2011, fol­lowed by Avon and Som­er­set Po­lice, down 19 per cent, and Devon and Corn­wall, down 14 per cent.

Wilt­shire Po­lice saw a drop of 10 per cent – but it has the fewest num­ber of of­fi­cers per 100,000 peo­ple in the coun­try – 139.

Devon and Corn­wall has 169 of­fi­cers per 100,000 peo­ple, Dorset Po­lice 164 and Avon and Som­er­set 153.

The fall in of­fi­cer num­bers comes up against a surge in crimes across all four force ar­eas.

An­gus Macpher­son, Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sioner for Wilt­shire and Swin­don, has writ­ten to the area’s MPs, call­ing for sup­port to get more fund­ing for the force.

He said: “Wilt­shire re­ceives the third low­est fund­ing per res­i­dent na­tion­ally from the Gov­ern­ment, this equates to £20 less per per­son than the na­tional av­er­age.

“This of course has had an im­pact of the num­ber of po­lice of­fi­cers we have, how­ever Wilt­shire Po­lice has a mod­ernised work­force and a num­ber of po­lice staff now carry out roles his­tor­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with a war­ranted of­fi­cer, for ex­am­ple a lo­cal crime in­ves­ti­ga­tor is a po­lice staff mem­ber who in­ves­ti­gates crimes re­ported to us along­side of­fi­cers.

“I have writ­ten to our county’s MPs ask­ing them to back me in lob­by­ing the Gov­ern­ment for a fairer pro­por­tion of the na­tional fund­ing pot for Wilt­shire Po­lice.

“De­mand on our po­lice force con­tin­ues to rise, yet the fund­ing al­lo­ca­tion doesn’t recog­nise this.”

The fig­ures in the re­port are for March 31, and are for full time equiv­a­lents, in­clud­ing long-term ab­sen­tees.

Avon and Som­er­set Po­lice has 2,597 of­fi­cers, down 613 from 3,210 in 2011.

Devon and Corn­wall has 2,959 of­fi­cers, down 477 from 3,436 in 2011.

Dorset Po­lice has 1,263 of­fi­cers, down 189 from 1,452.

And Wilt­shire Po­lice has 994 of­fi­cers, down 105 from 1,099 in 2011.

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