Seven years of austerity have seen a cut in South West Police numbers of over 15% since the Conservatives took office.
There are now 2817 fewer people employed by the region’s five police forces than there were in 2010. Devon and Cornwall has been hit worst by the cut in South West police numbers, losing 22% of its strength.
Dorset police force has come off lightest, down 9%. In Wiltshire a cut of 16% cut means fewer than 1000 police officers are now covering the entire county.
Numbers of police officers and PCSOs have fallen (by 18% and 21% respectively), but so have the police civilian staff who back them up. More than one in ten jobs in roles like forensics, custody officers, and crime scene examiners has disappeared in the last seven years.
Crime in the South West is up 10% from 2015/16. Violent and sexual recorded offenses have risen 85% and 104% since 2012/13.
UNISON South West police and justice lead Mike Cracknell said:
“Austerity is hitting public safety. Our police workers are 100% committed to keeping people safe, often putting themselves in danger to do so. But you can’t do the job with a skeleton crew. The government needs to stop the cuts and get police numbers back to a reasonable level.
“Policing is about trust and getting the details right. But with thousands fewer officers on the beat, not to mention the loss of forensics, scene of crime, and comms staff, that job is getting tougher. The Home Secretary Amber Rudd is in denial about the link between fewer police and more crime.
“South West Members of Parliament have got to be holding the government to account for this mess. Insufficient staffing puts police workers at risk as well as the public. Tory MPs need to stand up for their constituents and not stop raising these cuts in Parliament until more funding is provided.