The head of a police force praised by David Cameron for solving more crime with less money says continuing spending cuts would put public safety at risk.
Neil Rhodes, chief constable of Lincolnshire said his force could be the first to fall over, as he put it, because of having less money.
ITV News deputy political editor, Chris Ship reports:
The Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police has warned that further cuts to his force could "compromise public safety" and bring an end to neighbourhood policing.
Neil Rhodes has written to Home Secretary Theresa May warning that more cuts could leave his force "unsustainable".
ITV News North of England Correspondent Damon Green reports.
The Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police, Neil Rhodes, said it was not possible for his force to endure further cuts to funding without effectively demolishing neighbourhood policing in his county.
Speaking to ITV News Presenter Nina Hossain on the ITV Lunchtime News, he said:
"We have 1,220 officers, we now have 1,100, to take a further 236 officers out is simply not sustainable."
Policing Minister Mike Penning has hit back at criticisms by the chief constable of Lincolnshire Police, who warned his force could be "unsustainable" within a few years if funding cuts continue.
Mr Penning said independent studies show crime is falling, and police forces across the country are managing to balance their budget's whilst protecting frontline staff.
Police reform is working and crime has fallen by more than a fifth under this government according to the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales. There is no question police will still have the resources to do their important work. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary recently found that forces can successfully manage to balance their books while protecting the frontline and delivering reductions in crime.
We have made it easier for the police to do their job by cutting red tape, scrapping unnecessary targets, and giving them the discretion to use their professional judgement. The government is already conducting a fundamental review of the way funding is allocated between force areas. This work is ongoing but we will consult with police forces and others in due course.
Lincolshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick has written to the Home Secretary outlining his concerns over the sustainability of policing in the county due to budget cuts.
In his letter to Teresa May he said the police funding formula was 'not fit for purpose.'
Mr Hardwick said the force already had the lowest numbers of officers and staff per population and one of the 'highest workloads' in the country.
"Whilst our overall performance continues to be good when compared to other Forces, the Chief Constable and HMIC have concerns about the ability of the force to maintain its current level of service to the communities of Lincolnshire beyond 2016. " said Mr Hardwick adding that the next step would be to cut back on officers and PCSOs to meet savings.
It comes after Lincolnshire's Chief Constable Neil Rhodes published a letter he sent to Teresa May expressing his fears that his force could be the first in the country to 'fall over' if cuts continued at the same level for the next three years.
Lincolnshire's Chief Constable has warned his force could be "unsustainable" within three years if funding cuts continue at current levels.
Neil Rhodes, has written a letter to the Home Secretary Theresa May, seen by the Daily Telegraph, expressing his concerns.
He said in the letter his force could be the first to 'fall over' as cuts to officer numbers in response to a reported £10.4 million budget shortfall would mean it would be unable to police effectively.
"If we were a business, then it would be funded at below the cost of being in business. The cupboard is bare and it is likely that we will be the first force in the country to fall over.
In 2016-17, Lincolnshire Police will be on the basis of current financial projections, on the edge of viability. In the following year it will be unsustainable.
To cut numbers by the amount needed would mean service degradation to a level that would be unacceptable to our communities and compromise both public safety and officer safety."
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