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Third of community police officers cut

LABOUR warned that security can’t come “on the cheap” after it was revealed that a third of neighbourhood police officers have been axed.

More than 7,000 bobbies on the beat — front-line officers who develop relationships with local areas and communities — have been taken off the streets by the Tory government.

Since March 2015, these numbers have either been reassigned to other roles or have left the profession, according to a Sunday Times investigation.

Police community support officers (PCSOs) have also faced aggressive cuts, with numbers down by 18 per cent since 2015. The number of officers now stands at about 10,000.

But the number of officers in administrative or office functions has multiplied by a quarter, raising concerns about the bureaucratisation of the force and casting doubt on the government’s pledges to “protect front-line policing.”

The force with the lowest number of beat officers per head of population, Sussex, has only 8.3 neighbourhood officers per 100,000 people.

According to the report, the villagers of Martock in Somerset have resorted to hiring a security firm to patrol the streets at night. In London’s West End, the Duke of Westminster's Grosvenor estate is understood to be in talks to provide funding for Britain's largest private police force.

Former Scotland Yard commissioner Lord Stevens found the findings “incredibly alarming.”

He said: ‘If the increase in violent crime carries on escalating, you are going to get a very dangerous tipping point where there is no control and it is a very difficult thing to bring back.”

Labour shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “We cannot have security on the cheap and Tory cuts are making our communities less safe.

“Cutting over 7,000 neighbourhood police officers means that vital intelligence is missed and relations between the police and the communities they serve become more removed.

“Over 21,000 police officers have been lost since 2010 and cuts on this scale are obviously going to have a huge impact on policing and public safety.”

Ms Abbott also pledged that the next Labour government will recruit 10,000 new police officers.

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