Crime rise warning amid cuts threat
Crime could rise if hundreds of police jobs are axed because of the Government's budget cuts, a chief constable has said.
Kent Police's Ian Learmonth said a 20% cut in funding of the force would mean it loses £53 million over the next four years.
The impact of such cuts is likely to bring staff and officer numbers back to levels not seen since 2001, he told BBC Radio Kent.
Mr Learmonth said: "When you look at our budget, 84% of it is people - police officers and police staff. You cannot achieve the savings with the remaining 16%, so we are immediately into people."
Kent Police employs 3,728 officers and 2,932 civilian staff.
Mr Learmonth, who joined Kent Police as chief constable in July, added: "The cuts, if they are 20%, will take us back to 2001, so that's quite a significant drawback into police numbers. Clearly there is a potential impact that crime will rise."
The scale of the cuts will not be known until the Government publishes its comprehensive spending review at the end of October.
Mr Learmonth continued: "I have never offered any guarantees on protecting police officer and police staff numbers because you can't do that with the size of the cuts we are facing. What we have said is my focus is on our ability to deliver frontline, front-end policing to the community of Kent."
But Ian Pointon, of the Kent Police Federation, insisted policing should be protected from any cuts. He said: "This is going to have an impact on the policing in Kent and the people need to wake up to that fact."
Policing budget cuts may see up to 60,000 jobs lost nationwide, according to recent research for Jane's Police Review magazine.