Buses across Hampshire are carrying adverts warning continued “crippling” cuts to the police budget could spell the end of neighbourhood policing.
As part of its continuing #CutsHaveConsequences campaign – raising public awareness of the reality and impact of £80 million cuts - Hampshire Police Federation is placing adverts on 60 buses across Hampshire.
Since 2010, the force has lost more than 600 police officers and there are fears that there could be another 400 lost - 1,000 in total - in the next two years. More than 33 police stations will be closed in the next three years.
Some crimes are also on the rise in the area – including arson, sexual offences and violent crime.
John Apter (above) , Chairman of Hampshire Police Federation – which represents front line officers - said it was vitally important that people are made aware of the impact of the cuts.
“The risk of future cuts to policing is a real one,” said Mr Apter. “With all that has been taken out of policing there is nothing more to give. Further cuts would force decisions to be made which would have been unthinkable a few short years ago.
“Neighbourhood policing is at risk, the very bedrock of policing is under threat. This is not the police service our members joined and it's not the police service the public tell us they want.
“I fear many members of the public don’t realise what they are about to lose. We have to ask you what do you want your police service to look like? What would you like your police officers to be doing?
“We can only provide you with the service people are entitled to if we are funded correctly.”
The #CutsHaveConsequences campaign – which launched at the beginning of March - is running across social media, bus and newspaper adverts – and is highlighting the consequences of cuts to policing budgets in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and what they will mean to the tax-paying public.
There remain regular updates on the Twitter account @HantsPolFed and you can see the campaign website here http://www.hampshirepolfed.org.uk/cuts_have_consequences.
“Some people will say that crime has fallen so police can take the pain,” added Mr Apter.
“Although across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight overall crime has fallen by 2.5 per cent we have seen increases in certain types of crime.
“Violent crimes have increased by over 11 per cent, sexual offences have increased by almost 27 per cent and arson has increased by 29 per cent.
“But crime is only a part of the overall picture. Policing is about more than tackling crime. Some 83 per cent of calls we receive are not crime related.
“So with an increase in some types of crime, an increase in demand across the board but a huge reduction in officers and resources it is no wonder that we have reached breaking point.”
Mr Apter called on the public to keep raising awareness of the importance of policing with politicians.
He added: “The public tell us that policing is a priority to them, they support their local force, they want policing to remain an integral part of their community.
“We need people’s help in getting this message to our MPs, prospective MPs and all local politicians. Ask where they stand on policing cuts.
“Let them know that #CutsHaveConsequences.”