Kent police chief admits cuts could lead to crime rise

Mr Learmonth said he hoped most losses would be through natural wastage and retirement

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Kent Police's chief constable has said that crime could rise if the force has to make cuts of up to 20%.

Ian Learmonth said expected budget savings of £53m over four years meant up to 1,500 jobs could be lost.

He said it would take staff and officer numbers back to 2001 levels and "a potential impact" was that crime would increase.

Kent Police Federation and Unison have written to local MPs to urge them to lobby the government to limit the cuts.

The Home Office has already warned police forces in England and Wales to expect funding cuts in the government's Comprehensive Spending Review.

'Size of cuts'

Mr Learmonth said: "The cuts - if they are 20% - will take us back to 2001 figures.

"That's quite a significant drawback into police numbers, both civilian staff and police numbers, and clearly there's a potential impact that crime will rise.

"What I have said is that my focus is on the ability to deliver frontline, front-end policing to the communities of Kent.

Earlier this week he told Kent Police civilian staff and officers that up to 1,000 civilian and 500 officer jobs could be lost as a result of expected spending cuts to be announced this autumn.

Mr Learmonth said he hoped most losses would be through natural wastage and retirement.

'Want proper policing'

Kent currently has 3,728 police officers and 2,932 civilian staff.

In July, nearly 200 people expecting to begin training as recruits were told their places had been cancelled because of the spending cuts.

Plans are to be finalised after the results of the spending review are announced.

Unison spokesman Peter Saville said the union and the Kent Police Federation had written to MPs to urge them to oppose police spending cuts.

He added: "The constituents might want to have a proper policing service so we're trying to focus the minds of MPs that perhaps they may be able to lobby the treasury."

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