WARNINGS about the devastating consequences of police cutbacks have been ‘ignored by Whitehall’, the chairman of Hampshire Police Federation has said.
John Apter, who represents rank-and-file officers in the county, has launched a stinging attack on the government for failing to address damaging cuts to the force.
It comes as a top counter-terrorism officer has warned that local cuts to frontline officers is putting Britain’s national security ‘at risk’.
Neil Basu, the senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing, said teams tackling Islamist and neo-Nazi extremists become ‘divorced from the frontline’ when bobbies are taken off the beat.
But Mr Apter says these warnings had come too late and that the government had been ignoring advice from police federations for too long.
‘This is what I have been warning could happen for years,’ he said. ‘I have been accused of scaremongering, of crying wolf and putting the fear in the public when it wasn’t necessary.
‘It’s clear now that these warnings have sadly come to roost.’
Mr Apter said cuts to Hampshire Constabulary had left officers strained and struggling to cope.
He said rank-and-file officers and senior police were forced to deal with more issues with less resources – a situation he has demanded is fixed.
He added: ‘In Hampshire we have 1,000 fewer officers, several hundred fewer staff. That is putting more pressure on the force.
‘You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the maths simply doesn’t work out.
‘We simply don’t have enough people to do the job. Police want to do the best that they can but in reality that best isn’t always good enough.
The UK has experienced five terror attacks in 2017 when the threat ‘went absolutely stratospheric’, Mr Basu said.
At least one plot was reportedly foiled hours before an attack was put into action after police received a community tip-off.
‘When we don’t have those people we will become so divorced from the frontline, and the frontline of communities, that will be a disaster for policing in this country,’ Mr Basu said.
Mr Apter added: ‘The warning these top officers are giving is far too late, they’re too late to the party.
‘I find it staggering the government – who are the party charged with ensuring law and order and security – have ignored warnings from professionals and the rank and file officers.’