A DROP in the number of police officers has been defended as ‘intelligent policing’.
Home Office figures reveal a drop of 187 police officers at Hampshire Constabulary in the past 12 months.
There were 3,064 full-time equivalent officers in the force at the end of March 2015.
There had been 3,247 on the same date last year.
PCSOs have been reduced by 22 to 302 but the force says that is due to vacancies not a planned reduction.
There are now 456 special constables, down from 576. They are part-time officers.
Chief Superintendent David Powell, head of neighbourhood policing, said: ‘In line with budget cuts, there has been a planned reduction in police officer numbers over the past few years which has been mirrored across the country as we strive to work smarter and focus our resources on intelligent neighbourhood policing.
‘Our approach is to continue to provide a quality service to the public by working efficiently and effectively, ensuring the right resources are in the right places.
‘We have not reduced the number of PCSOs. We are carrying a number of vacancies at the current time but anticipate being back to our establishment level of around 300 by the end of the year.
‘PCSOs are a vital part of the Hampshire police family and have proved extremely effective at engaging with our communities.’
He added: ‘The specials that we have now do more hours than our specials have ever done before, qualify to undertake independent patrol quicker than they ever have before, and so represent tremendous value to our communities.’
The force has been hit by £80m cuts by the Home Office.