Police chiefs have delivered a stark warning to ministers that further spending cuts threaten to “fundamentally change” the nature of policing in Britain.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has written to the home secretary, Theresa May, urging the government to be realistic about the level of additional cuts forces can absorb, according to reports.
A 16-page document is believed to have been drawn up at a meeting of top officers earlier this month to discuss the impact of the chancellor George Osborne’s forthcoming spending review.
According to the Mail on Sunday, it warns that cutting forces’ central grants by more than a quarter by 2020 would mean the traditional bobby on the beat would disappear completely in some areas.
The report says that without “eyes and ears” in communities, police would be unable to gather intelligence on criminals and terrorists, with big implications for national security.
Crime levels would rise more significantly as prevention work is cut, far fewer officers could be mobilised to tackle national crises such as riots, while some forces could even go bust.
The head of the NPCC, Sara Thornton, wrote: “Chief constables are extremely concerned about the impact of the forthcoming spending review. They are extremely concerned that the scale of cuts, coupled with changes to the way grant is distributed, will fundamentally change policing in this country.
“We hope that the spending review will be realistic about the level of further cuts that the police can absorb without it impacting negatively on the safety and security that our citizens enjoy.”