SOUTH Yorkshire Police have spent £7,000 on a batch of new recruits – 280 cardboard coppers.
The paper PCs are being used to deter thieves across the county and force chiefs say they are having the desired effect.
They claim the slimline static cops have helped slash crime by up to 50 per cent in some areas where they have been deployed.
But the thin blue line is looking thinner than ever – the force has seen the numbers of South Yorkshire officers dwindle to less than 2,900 in 2012 from a high of 3,289 in 2008 before the budget cuts began to bite.
The cardboard coppers, which are life-size cutouts of a uniformed officer, cost £25 each and senior officers have ordered a new batch of 280 – costing the force £7,000.
Forty are being held in reserve, with the rest now providing a visible ‘police presence’ across the county.
The slim crimefighters are being displayed in shop doorways or foyers where shoplifting is a problem and the force say they are responsible, in conjunction with other police tactics, for reductions in crime of up to 50 per cent.
A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “The rationale for purchase and delivery was based upon research indicating previous success at reducing crime in other countries and elsewhere in UK.
“It shows the stores are working in partnership with the police to tackle retail crime and puts at the forefront of potential thieves’ minds the issue that police may be present in the stores or area they are targeting.”
He added: “As an example, in Doncaster, where some of these cardboard officers have been deployed – in conjunction with other crime reduction work – we have seen a decrease in crime by 50 per cent in certain stores, and reductions in other stores around South Yorkshire.”
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