A report has revealed that 620 front-line police staff will be lost in the West Midlands as part of cuts which will also see stations closed and replaced by supermarket drop-in centres.
Almost 6,000 officers from across the UK will be lost from the frontline in three years’ time as a result of the Government’s budget cuts.
At least 179 police stations will close and one in five will lose their front counters, the report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found.
Three forces – including Britain’s biggest, the Metropolitan Police, Devon and Cornwall and Lincolnshire – may not even be able to provide an efficient or effective service for the public in the near future, the inspectors said.
Steve McCabe, Labour MP for Selly Oak, said: “These figures are shocking. David Cameron said frontline policing would not be hit by his huge 20 per cent cuts to our force, but the truth is that 5,775 frontline officers across the country will be cut by 2015.
“Neighbourhood officers, 999 response and traffic police are being cut right across the country.
“The blame for these cuts lies squarely with the Tory-led government. Our Chief Constable has been put in an impossible decision by this Government’s decision to cut police funding by 20 per cent.
“We recognise savings need to be made, but the Government has doubled Labour’s cuts to police funding, and made the steepest cuts in the first two years. That’s not an attack on waste, that’s an attack on the police.”
In a bid to try to offset the closures of front desks and stations, around 137 police access counters will be set up in libraries and supermarkets.
This week West Midlands Police closed the front counter at Chelmsley Wood Police station and opened a walk-in centre at the Asda supermarket in the nearby Chelmsley Wood Shopping Centre.
Local Labour councillor Nick Stephens described it as the start of a “slippery slope”.
But Chief Supt Sally Bourner, Solihull local policing unit commander, said: “This is an innovative and ground-breaking approach which we have been working on for several months.
“We believe it is the start of a whole new approach to providing policing services to the people of the West Midlands.”
Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation, said: “Whichever way you cut it, the resilience of the police service to be able to react to whatever is thrown at it is being threatened.”