Back-office savings will not be enough for the police when the budget cuts starts to fall.
According to Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, force numbers will have to fall.
Orde told the Telegraph:” There is lots of commitment to doing whatever we can within the current structure, to drive change at the back office. But frankly, depending on what the cuts are, this will bite on police numbers.”
Policing minister Nick Herbert said: “We don’t think there is a need [to cut numbers] but we don’t know how the spending environment will be going forward. We have said we want to do everything to protect the front line. The public want visible policing.”
There were 143,770 full-time police officers in March last year, an all-time high, although the police grant for 2010-11 has been cut by £125m. According to the Telegraph, forces may be encouraged to merge with neighbours – Northumbria and Durham are already holding talks.
Rules preventing officers from being made redundant are also likely to be reviewed.