Bedfordshire has lost 8% of its police officers over the last decade, while violent crime levels soared

Bedfordshire has lost 8% of its police officers over the last decade, while violent crime levels have soared in the area.

The Police Federation says that "society just isn’t as safe as it once was", and that the public are being let down by cuts to police forces, while Beds Police has called for reform in the way forces are funded.

Beds Police are facing significant funding challenges, a spokesman said.

Beds Police are facing significant funding challenges, a spokesman said.

The latest Home Office data shows that Bedfordshire Police had 1,148 officers in September, 12 more than they had a year earlier. It was the second consecutive year of increase.

But the number of officers is still significantly down on where it was in September 2010, when there were 1,242 – meaning a drop of 8% in eight years.

Over the same period, the number of crimes recorded by police has increased .

In the 12 months to September 2010, 42,769 crimes were recorded by Bedfordshire Police – a figure which rose to 44,802 in the year to September, an increase of 5%.

The number of violent crimes recorded rose markedly, increasing by 57% over the period. In total, 10,947 violent crimes were recorded in Bedfordshire last year.

Across England and Wales’s 43 police forces, the number of officers has dropped by 14% since September 2010. There were 122,000 last year.

Over the same period, crime increased by 11%, with 4.6 million incidents recorded in the most recent 12 months.

There were 1.3 million violent crimes recorded last year, nearly double the number in the 12 months to September 2010.

A spokesman for Beds Police said: "We have been one of the most outspoken forces in the country about the challenges we face because of reduced police resources. We will always prioritise the most serious and highest harm crimes that are having the biggest impact on our communities.

“Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway successfully lobbied for a unique Special Policing Grant of £4.571m from the Home Office last December and a total of £8m, made up of the police’s council tax precept and Government grants of £1.1 and £1.3m, as part of the Policing Settlement for all forces for this financial year.

“We anticipate that this will support the recruitment of up to 400 new Police Constables and double the number of PCs in Community Policing across the county over the next three years.

“Bedfordshire continues to be funded as a rural force, despite the significant challenges it faces in areas such as serious and organised crime, firearms and youth violence. We will continue to ask the Government to reform the way police forces are funded to respond to this demand.”

Police Federation of England and Wales chair John Apter said the public had been let down by the large cut in officers.

He said: “Society just isn’t as safe as it once was, and although the police service is doing everything within its power, we are swimming against the tide and it is the public who are being let down.

“The murder toll has increased from 649 deaths last year to 739, an annual increase for the fourth consecutive year.

"This represents thousands of families and friends grieving all over the UK. The NHS says that hospital admissions in England alone from knife-related offences soared to 4,986 over the past 12 months.

“This is a terrifying picture for our communities whose lives are being blighted by violent crime on a daily basis.

"This is not a coincidence; we need more boots on the ground to help combat this epidemic.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We are ensuring the police have the resources they need to carry out their vital work.

"Our 2019-20 police funding settlement provides the most substantial funding increase since 2010 – around £970m including council tax.

"January’s quarterly crime statistics show that your chance of being a victim of crime remains low.

"But we accept certain crimes, particularly some of the most serious violent crimes such as knife and gun offences, have increased and we are doing everything possible to reverse the trend."