Stretched police fear future funding cuts

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SOUTH Yorkshire is set to lose the equivalent of all the police officers currently working in Rotherham and Doncaster as the Government’s funding cuts bite.

The county’s Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said by 2014 the county will have lost 700 officers since savings started in 2006.

Secretary Jim Lucas said that is on top of 793 civilians the force wants to lose over the next few years, which leaves him fearful how police will cope.

Chiefs must make savings of £41 million over the next four years after the Government slashed the force’s budget by 20 per cent in a bid to reduce public spending.

Mr Lucas this week called on politicians to rethink the cuts.

He said the way forces have been over-stretched responding to the recent riots proved police officer posts should not be axed.

“Our fear is if the Government presses ahead with 20 per cent cuts the resilience of the police service to be able to cope with serious disorder will be weakened,” he said.

“In South Yorkshire we have not seen the disturbances other places have and we have police officer numbers to respond should we need to, but we shudder to think how we would cope and what our response would be if that resilience goes.”

Mr Lucas said the 16,000 officers deployed to tackle the riots in London represented the number of posts to go nationally if the Government makes 20 per cent cuts.

He said: “If it was to happen again in the future I don’t know how the police service would cope.”

“With the numbers already lost since 2006 and numbers we are set to lose in the next few years, South Yorkshire will end up losing the equivalent of all the officers currently working in Rotherham and Doncaster.”

“We know savings have to be made but they can be done so sensibly and this force has already shown over the years that efficiency savings can be made without automatically taking a big axe to jobs.”

Mr Lucas said: “Our officers are professional people who want to do their job knowing the force has the back-up to cope with all eventualities.”

“They will always strive to deliver the best service possible with the resources they have got. But with not only police officer posts but back office jobs going, officers on the front line know they are going to be stretched and they are worried about who will do the jobs of those who used to support them once they go. The Government needs to have a serious rethink about its plans.”

Police officer positions are being lost through natural wastage as jobs are protected from redundancy by law.