THE CUT to the number of emergency service workers in the city is down to the Government, an MP has claimed.

As previously reported, figures show the equivalent of 4,885 full-time emergency workers were employed by organisations covering Southampton this year – 11% fewer than in 2011.

Labour MP Alan Whitehead, who represents the Test constituency, has blamed the successive Conservative Governments.

But Royston Smith, a Tory MP for Southampton Itchen, says technology has become more efficient, so services require fewer personnel.

"We desperately need more frontline workers yet the government seem unwilling to provide the necessary funding," Mr Whitehead told the Echo.

"Successive Conservative governments over the last decade have cut funding to frontline services and they are now incredibly stretched."

On the contrary, Mr Smith said: "People will have seen the increases in the number of police officers, doctors, nurses and GPs. It is not, however, always about numbers of personnel it is frequently about the way we do our business.

"For example, the technology used to fight fires these days means we can operate to the same degree of response and safety but with fewer firefighters on an appliance."

Of the 4,885 full-time emergency workers in Southampton, among them were the 2,693 frontline police officers in Hampshire Constabulary's ranks as of March 31, according to Home Office data.

That was 14% fewer than at the same point in 2011, when there were 3,137 FTE officers, though figures prior to 2015 are estimates.

Across England, the number of officers has dropped by 5% in the last decade – while recorded crime was rising year-on-year in the years before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Different Home Office figures show that across Hampshire, the number of crimes recorded by police increased by 21%, from 133,500 in 2010-11, to 161,404 in 2019-20.

The figure fell to 139,844 in 2020-21, when crime levels nationally were significantly impacted by coronavirus lockdowns.