Police warning over cuts

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RANK and file police officers in South Yorkshire have written to all the county’s MPs asking them to lobby the Government against budget cuts.

Members of the Police Federation in South Yorkshire are concerned that staffing cuts could allow a repeat of last month’s riots.

The officers, who were deployed around the country at the height of the disturbances, fear proposals to shed around 16,000 officers in the UK by 2015 will leave the force ill equipped to do its job.

In a letter to all South Yorkshire MPs, which is signed by Joint Branch Board Secretary James Lucas and Joint Branch Board Chairman Neil Bowles, the federation says: “It has been noticable that since the riots, public opinion regarding the proposed cuts to the policing budget has changed from ambivalence to concern.

“The riots have uniquely unified the whole of the police service and the public.

“Most right-minded people realise that you cannot take 20 per cent out of the policing budget without a significant risk to public service and law and order.

“The government has asserted that the frontline can be protected despite the cuts.

“Yet this flies in the face of the opinion of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies, who have advocated that anything over 12 per cent would lead to a reduction in the service.

“Why bother to have experts in HMIC if you don’t listen to them?”

The letter reminds MPs of the sterling work that was carried out by police, many of whom were mobilised to deal with riots with minimal prior warning.

It adds: “The riots meant police officers across the country were kept on duty for long extended hours, had annual leave and rest days cancelled and were deployed and forced to sleep in some cases hundreds of miles from their homes.

“South Yorkshire officers were not just deployed in London but assisted in Manchester and Nottingham.

“They did not have the choice in this as that is what we sign up to do if necessary.

“We believe that by ploughing ahead with huge cuts in policing the government risks turning our fine service into a dilapidated, demoralised fragment of its former self.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “There is no question the police will still have the resources to do their important work.”