Po­lice num­bers to be the ‘low­est since 1975’

Middleton Guardian - - FRONT PAGE - PAUL BRIT­TON

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

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