1,000 police officers lost as crime levels soar
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.