THE number of police officers available to respond to emergencies in South Yorkshire fell by 49 in the first year after the last General Election, according to politicians objecting to Government cuts.
Figures from the House of Commons library show the number of officers available to respond to emergency calls fell from 1,663 in March 2011 to 1,615 by March 2012.
The figures were released by Rotherham MP John Healey, who said: “Our local force is put in an impossible position by this Government’s decision to cut police funding by 20 per cent.
“We recognise savings need to be made but the Government has doubled Labour’s cutbacks on police funding, and made the deepest cuts in the first two years.
“That’s not an attack on waste, that’s an attack on the police.”
Coun Shaun Wright, vice chairman of South Yorkshire Police Authority and one of the candidates vying to become the county’s first Police and Crime Commissioner in November, said: “With the loss of 49 police officers in South Yorkshire teams that respond to 999 calls, the evidence is absolutely clear.
“This Government has no plan to cut crime, only to cut police officers.”
South Yorkshire Police’s Deputy Chief Constable, Bob Dyson, said: “The force, in common with many other public sector organisations, faces a 20 per cent reduction in Government funding over the four years of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
“In real terms this equates to a £45m reduction in our budget.
“The force has worked closely with the police authority and other partners to develop a plan for those cuts that seeks to minimise the impact on the service we provide to the public of South Yorkshire. Every effort is made to prioritise operational policing. Given that 83 per cent of our budgets are spent on employees, it is inevitable that we will have to reduce the numbers of staff that we employ, including police officers.
He added: “Due to the police authority agreeing to the force accessing financial reserves and the increase in the Council Tax precept, we will be able to maintain officer numbers over the next 12 months.
“Responding to public calls for assistance is a vital element of the service we provide and the force performs very highly in attending incidents. ”