Number of officers in England and Wales has fallen 9,625 since general election as spending cuts take effect
The number of police officers in England and Wales has fallen by 5,000 in the past year as the 20% cut in Whitehall funding takes effect, according to Home Office figures published on Thursday.
The official figures show that police numbers in the 43 forces in England and Wales have fallen by 9,625 since the general election and are more than on track to meet reliable estimates that the current round of public spending cuts will lead to a loss of at least 15,000 officers by 2015.
The figures mean the total number of police officers in England and Wales has fallen from a peak of 143,734 in March 2010 to 134,101 this March. This has been accompanied by a fall in the number of police community support officers from 16,918 to 14,393 and a drop in police civilian staff from 79,596 to 67,474 over the same period.
The latest twice-yearly Home Office police strength figures confirm claims that the 20% cut in Whitehall funding for the police was "front-loaded" into the early years of the four-year public spending settlement.
The cuts in police numbers have been most keenly felt among the ranks of constables, who have lost 3,675 officers in the past year, sergeants, who are down 894, and inspectors, who are down by 173. The number of chief officers, including chief constables, has fallen by only six to 209 in the past year. The only growth area has been in the number of volunteer "special constables" whose numbers have increased by 10%, or 1,922, to 20,343.