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Sir Tom: Police cuts here to stay

Police cuts are "here to stay" according to Chief Inspector of the Constabulary Sir Tom Winsor.

The head of the police watchdog said there is room for further cuts but acknowledged that the police would have to focus more on serious crime.

Sir Tom said the police need to "work smarter" as inevitably the service will be smaller as he called for more action to tackle cyber crime.

His comments contrasted with those of Scotland Yard commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who last month warned of a threat to public safety without radical reform of the police in the face of budget cuts.

Association of Chief Police Officers president Sir Hugh Orde also claimed last month that police forces were struggling to deal with reductions in funding.

But Sir Tom said further cuts are inevitable.

He told BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend: "Austerity is here to stay.

"The police have already made and done it well in the main, cuts of 20% in the last four years, and they are facing cuts of a further 5% next year.

"There will inevitably be a time where they can't take any more but let us remember that measured crime has fallen dramatically but so have the demands made on the police.

"We are heading for a smaller police service."

Asked if there was room for further cuts, Sir Tom said: "In some respects there are further efficiencies to be obtained, that is undoubtedly the case.

"They need to work smarter because they will be working smaller."

Sir Tom said police forces have not done enough work to analyse new demands being made on them, particular with regards to cyber crime.

He said: "Any crime that is reported to the police has to be taken seriously, however there are crimes that are more serious than others.

"Nobody would argue that shoplifting is as serious as a violent assault and therefore the police need to look for the crimes that matter most to people, that do greatest harms to communities - serious and organised crime, drugs, violent offences, the grooming and sexual exploitation of children.

"Those are things that need to be properly assessed and the police I'm afraid to say have done very little adequate work in modelling, in assessing, in measuring, in analysing the demands that are made on them on a national and regional basis.

"It means that they need to understand the kinds of crimes that people are experiencing now - cyber crime, cyber enabled crime, the sexual exploitation of children, crimes that are either enabled by the internet or indeed carried out using the internet."

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