1. ITV Report

Police Midlands numbers 'at nine year low'

Police numbers in the Midlands are at a nine year low Photo: ITV Central

Police numbers in the Midlands are at a nine year low according to the latest statistics from the Home Office.

The biggest percentage drop in the number of officers on the beat is in Derbyshire. 202 fewer officers compared with last year - that's a fall in numbers of 10%. It is the biggest percentage fall of all 43 forces in England and Wales.

In Warwickshire there at 75 fewer officers - a fall of 8.2%. In the West Midlands force there is a smaller percentage fall of 4% but it still translates into 323 fewer staff.

The Policing Minister Nick Herbert MP has defended the cuts as "necessary savings" to hep reduce the nation's budget deficit. He said 94% of all staff serve in frontline duties.

But Labour's Policing Minister David Hanson MP says the fall in "boots on the ground" is a serious threat especially as more cuts are expected to come in the next few years.

Today's figures on police numbers come at a time as an increasing number of forces are turning to the private sector to help run 'back room duties" Lincolnshire police has signed a multi-million pound contract with G4S.

A project by the West Midlands in conjunction with the Surrey force has meanwhile been put on hold. The moves towards increasing privatisation are likely to play a key part in the elections of new Police and Crime Commissioners to take place in November.