09:23 Monday 04 February 2013

The even thinner blue line . . .

Written byJOSHUA TAYLOR

POLICE forces in Staffordshire and Derbyshire lost 214 officers in just one year, new figures have shown.

Newly-published Home Office statistics revealed the number of officers working for Staffordshire Police dipped from 2,016 in September 2011 to 1,899 in September 2012 — a fall of 117.

Meanwhile, Derbyshire Police’s officer count fell by 97 from 1,920 to 1,822 during the same time period.

The number of civilian staff carrying out back-office functions has also fallen in each force.

Derbyshire Police lost 56 such employees between September 2011 and September 2012. Staffordshire Police saw a drop of 29 during the same period.

Forces in Staffordshire and Derbyshire also lost three and seven police community support officers (PCSOs), as well as 22 and 16 special constables respectively.

Derbyshire Police shed 27 ‘designated officers’ — civilian staff given certain police powers — during the 12-month period, while Staffordshire Police gained one.

Critics have said the shrinking police numbers will compromise safety.

Jon Wheale, Burton’s Labour Party candidate, said: “This Government’s reduction in frontline police puts our communities at risk with fewer frontline officers, fewer officers responding to 999 calls and less visible police.”

But Matthew Ellis, Staffordshire’s Conservative police and crime commissioner, said: “I understand why people may be concerned, but it’s not all about officer numbers.”

Mr Ellis said 50 fewer officers would leave his force during the next year due to rule changes he implemented.

“I think we could get 20 per cent more time on the front line out of each officer if we look at the way we work,” Mr Ellis said, vowing to bring in new policies to free up police time and reduce bureaucracy for officers.

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