Police numbers to be the ‘lowest since 1975’
THE Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police has warned fresh budget cuts could take officer numbers back to levels last seen in the 1970s.
Ian Hopkins said there would be ‘little alternative but to cut posts, both officers and staff ’.
The force – the country’s third largest – has lost about 2,000 frontline officers during the government’s austerity drive.
Mr Hopkins said GMP would ‘just have to focus’ on response capabilities, serious and organised crime and custody facilities, as well as ‘the core capabilities of policing’.
In an interview with The Guardian, he said forces have now been told a pensions shortfall of more than £400m must be met from their own already reduced budgets.
Mr Hopkins said he was planning on having 6,300 officers by March 2021.
Instead, he said, he is expecting a figure of 5,709.
That figure is less than GMP officer numbers 43 years ago in 1975.
The warning is also set against figures that were released last week which showed a 17 per cent increase in recorded crime across the region, in the 12 months to June this year.
Violent offending, sexual offences, robbery, theft and vehicle crime all increased.
Mr Hopkins said: “Clearly, we would always look to save money without job cuts, but the reality is 83pc of our budget is people and after eight years of efficiencies across all parts of the organisation – which has seen us make reductions of £183m – there would be little alternative but to cut posts, both officers and staff.
“This would just get worse as we would have to further prioritise against threat, harm and risk, screen out more and more crime.
“Essentially we would just have to focus on providing a response function, a serious and organised crime capability and a custody function as the core capabilities of policing.”
There were also warnings from a raft of other forces over the impact the unforeseen pensions expenses could have on budgets and officer numbers.
Speaking after the Home Office crime statistics were published the deputy mayor of Greater Manchester, Bev Hughes, said: “We have seen crime rise and rise since 2010 and this is no surprise given the savage cuts that have been imposed on police and across our public services.
“Last month, the prime minister told us that austerity is over.
“If that’s the case the government should invest now in policing and public services before it’s too late to undo the damage of austerity.”
The Home Office said: “We are working closely with forces to understand the impact this change will have and are in discussions with police leaders about mitigating the impact on the front line.
“The government is committed to continuing to ensure that the police have the resources they need to do their vital work and the home secretary has been clear that he will prioritise police funding at the next spending review.”
Chief Constable Ian Hopkins