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30,000 police officers face axe under Conservative 1930s spending plans

A further 30,000 police officers could be lost after the election under the Conservatives, according to analysis of George Osborne’s plans to cut spending back to a share of GDP last seen in the 1930s.


New figures show that if Tory spending cuts announced in the Autumn Statement – which would lead to public spending falling to just 35 per cent of GDP – were applied equally across non ring-fenced departments, they would lead to the loss of 29,900 police officers and 6,700 PCSOs by 2019/20.

This would take the overall numbers of police officers in England and Wales to less than 100,000 – well below the late 1970s (the earliest available comparable data), when there were 110,000 officers.

Almost 17,000 fewer police officers have already been lost since 2010, so losing another 30,000 police officers will mean the Tories would have cut police numbers by a third over ten years - from 144,000 to less than 96,500.

The figures were commissioned by Labour from the House of Commons Library and assume that reductions in police budgets lead to cuts to police numbers in the same proportions as in this Parliament.

In 2010 the ratio of officers per 1,000 population was 2.6. These cuts would mean the police force was heading towards a ratio of officers per 1,000 population of 1.7, close to the ratio of 1.5 in the 1930s.

Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said:

“Conservative plans to cut spending back to 1930s levels would mean the end of neighbourhood policing.

“These figure show that under these extreme and risky Tory plans a further 30,000 police officers could be lost – the equivalent of almost the entire Metropolitan police force. This is on top of the 17,000 cut since 2010 and would mean police numbers falling by a third after ten years of the Tories. And it would mean we would have fewer than 100,000 police officers.

“More serious and violent crimes including child abuse, rape and domestic violence are being reported, the terror threat has grown, and there has been a massive increase in online crime. Now is not the time to risk this kind of Tory attack on frontline policing.

“We've always said Labour will need to make savings to get the deficit down. That's why we have already set out plans to scrap elected police and crime commissioners, require joint purchasing of equipment by police forces, and make other efficiency savings to protect the police officers that the Tory plan would cut immediately next year. But we won't stand for Tory plans to go back to the 1930s. Community policing won't survive five more years of the Tories.”

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