Home Office: Police numbers lowest for a decade

POLICE officer numbers in England and Wales have fallen to their lowest level in 11 years – down by 4,000 in the past year.

In South Yorkshire Police, officer numbers stand at 2,775, down 59 in 12 months – although Home Office statistics say they have risen by three officers in the past six months.

Officers in the 43 forces stood at 131,837 at the end of September 2012, revealing a drop of more than 4,000 in a year – newly released figures show.

Surrey Police was the only force in England and Wales where police officer numbers went up over the last 12 months.

Numbers of civilian support staff, community support officers and volunteer police constables also fell.

In South Yorkshire Police, staff numbers were also down to 1,919, a fall of 63 over 12 months.

Jim Lucas, secretary of South Yorkshire Police Federation, said: “South Yorkshire Police is actively recruiting but we are not getting more officers in real terms. We are sustaining officer numbers as many have left through natural retirement. Many who have been recruited are still going through training so not yet on shifts.

“We get reports from officers on a daily basis about shift strength. There are concerns raised by our members that we do not have enough officers.”

Steve Williams, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “British police officers are regarded as the finest in the world. The latest force strength figures highlight that not only does Britain have the lowest number of police officers in over a decade, but that while this number has been reducing, the population has been increasing – making the gap in policing per population head even wider.”