The thin blue line cannot be stretched much further

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Police forces across the country are having to deal with a lot of upheaval as multi-million pound budget cuts imposed by the coalition government hit hard.

In Hampshire cash has had to be saved in all sorts of ways, from reorganising policing areas and closing down stations and front desks to redundancies and non-replacement of some officers who have left or retired.

Areas such as IT, firearms, the dog unit and roads policing are being shared with other forces and officers now use council offices and supermarkets as a base.

It’s been a lot to contend with and there are claims that morale among officers and staff is at its lowest ever.

As well as workload, officers have gripes about their pay and pension conditions.

And yet, despite that background of discontent and frustration over diminishing resources, we reveal today that crimes reported to Hampshire Constabulary are falling for the fifth consecutive year.

Latest figures show crime has dropped force-wide by more than 16 per cent between April and October – at a time when up to 1,200 officers and staff are having to go to save money.

Vehicle crime reports have dropped almost 30 per cent year-on-year, while reports of anti-social behaviour are down nearly nine per cent and house burglaries have fallen 27 per cent.

So how have the police done it? Operation Nemesis, which targeted acquisitive crime such as burglary, robbery and vehicle crime, was one reason.

There were other initiatives too that made a difference. Publishing images of ‘wanted’ offenders was one, while efforts have also gone into prevention such as advice to residents on securing their homes and vehicles.

We applaud Hampshire police for achieving so much at a time when resources are under such pressure. But there has to be concern that further cuts will make fighting crime harder and harder – the force is £7.4m adrift of its target to save £55m by April 2015. If the thin blue line is stretched much further, something will have to give.