Public safety could be jeopardised by proposed cuts to policing which could see almost a third of officers in the area go in 12 years, the body representing rank-and-file officers has claimed.
Lancashire Police Federation chiefs have launched a campaign to oppose coalition funding cuts they say are ‘bound to put the public at risk’, resulting in ‘a field day for criminals’.
The force had 3,650 police officers in 2009, a figure which, due to cuts of £4.2m in the region, is forecast to fall to 2,400 by 2021, meaning a loss of 1,250.
Rachel Baines, chairman of Lancashire Police Federation, said the cuts were “ludicrous”.
She added: “This will not only mean the end of the police service as we know it, but could have devastating consequences for the public”.
Ms Baines added there would be ‘a vast reduction’ in police presence on the streets and that anyone seeking to assure the public otherwise was ‘deluded’.
She said: “This is not what the public of Lancashire deserve.
“We know the economic situation is tough, we accept everyone has to share in the cutbacks but to slash the police service in Lancashire this much is too much.
“We really need the government to listen to us – public safety should not be gambled with, we need enough officers to do the job properly.”
Currently, there are just under 3,000 officers across Lancashire Constabulary.
Chief Constable Steve Finnigan said he ‘firmly believed’ their ability to deliver ‘proactive policing services’ to residents was ‘under threat’ and that they were in danger of becoming ‘a more reactive service’.
He added: “Some say crime is reducing but the truth is the nature of our demand is changing. We don’t have a choice but to adapt to new threats in high risk areas such as child sexual exploitation, cyber crime and counter terrorism.
“We need to look at how we deliver services in the future with a vastly reduced workforce and recognise if we are asked to make savings at the rate we have been already then we will need to cut a new deal with the public of Lancashire.”
Graham Jones, MP for Hyndburn and Haslingden, accused the government of wanting “to take the country back to the 1930s” through its policies.
He said: “The scale of the cuts is dangerous, police will no longer be able to guarantee law and order. The number of incidents the police have been able to attend has fallen”.
He added he was ‘fighting hard’ to ensure the retention of police on the beat in the area.
Clive Grunshaw, Police and Crime Commissioner, has written to Home Secretary Teresa May urging a rethink.
Tory Coun Peter Britcliffe said: “It’s very difficult to imagine there could be cuts of that dimension but obviously the public will be interested in having their front line services maintained.