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Police numbers at lowest level in nearly a decade

North Yorkshire Police Federation

2:42pm 26th July 2012
(Updated 1:16pm 3rd August 2012)

Police numbers have dropped to the lowest level in nearly a decade.

Home Office stats show there were 134,000 officers at the end of March.

That's a reduction of more than 5,000 in a year.

Responding to the latest Home Office statistics showing a 9 year low in police numbers, Mark Botham, chairman of North Yorkshire Police Federation says:

“Officer levels like this are not safe, they are not sustainable and put both officers and the public at risk.

"We have seen over the past few weeks that the private sector cannot be relied upon for security and the thin blue line stretches to protect the public. But with reductions in officer numbers like we have seen in North Yorkshire that will not be sustainable.  

"The figures released today show that over the past 12 months police officer numbers have fallen by more than the national average, and that this trend has continued over the past 6 months.

"The figures show we have fallen to 1402 officers in March 2012.  But the plans for further cuts were presented on 12th December 2011 to the Police Authority – a further reduction down to  1270 police officers. A massive cut from 2007 when we had 1656 officers.

"A cut equivalent to not policing Harrogate, Ripon, Catterick or Craven. Not safe, not sustainable.

"The Police Treatment Centres are seeing an increase in the number of cases of officers being admitted for stress. We are seeing in our on-going shift survey that officers health is suffering as a result of covering the gaps and figures presented to the Police Authority in June show that sickness levels are rising.

"Clearly cuts have consequences, enough is enough.

"The last time we were seriously under resourced was at the turn of the decade. The result was that by 2001 / 2002 North Yorkshire Police were approaching 50% of operational officers assaulted in any one year. As a consequence the Joint Branch Board has always viewed staffing levels as one of its key concerns.

"Our concern increased when on 24th March 2006 the Police Review produced a national table on police assaults, based on information provided by Police forces. North Yorkshire recorded a 25% increase in assault police, a much higher increase than any of the other forces in the Yorkshire and Humber region.

"In May 2010 research conducted by the Police Federation and accepted by the force showed that In North Yorkshire the number of police staff had increased by 158% between 2000 and 2009 (122% excluding PCSOs),, compared to 12% for police officers during the same period. These should be compared with the increase over the same period nationally when there was a 16%  increase in police officers (so North Yorkshire below national average)  an 80% increase in all police staff (North Yorkshire above national average and highest increase in the country) and a 49% increase in police staff excluding PCSOs (again North Yorkshire above the national average.)

"Despite accusations that we were scaremongering, the harsh reality of the consequences of a 20% cut to the police budget is now hitting home.  These figures do nothing to reassure us or the public we serve.  The government cannot gamble with public safety.  We are on the cusp of hosting the biggest event this country has ever seen and already security risks have been identified and police officers have been required to step in at the eleventh hour to put public safety first.  We will do our duty as police officers always do but this government must recognise that their first duty is the safety of the public. And we look to see Police and Crime Commissioner candidates make public statements on how sustainable this decrease in officer numbers is.”

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