Six per cent budget cuts announced by the Chancellor threaten loss of an extra 520 police officers, according to the West Midlands police and crime commissioner.
Bob Jones said he was “extremely disappointed” by the funding announcement in the George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review and warned that a total of 1,700 officers could be lost over the five year period.
He said the extra £27 million of cuts will mean it will be “almost impossible” to restart police officer recruitment or to end A19 – the compulsory retirement of police officers after 30 years’ service.
Mr Jones also said the force now faced a tipping point and predicted that it would become “much more challenging” to fight crime.
He added: “I am extremely disappointed by the announcement of a further six per cent cut to Home Office funding in 2015-16.
“If it is passed on in full to policing, it will mean a further £27 million cut to West Midlands Police, in addition to the £126 million we’ve lost already.
“This could take the total cut to over a fifth of the budget in just five years.”
Mr Jones added: “This will mean we lose more police officers. If the full cut is applied to reducing police officer numbers, up to another 520 officers could go, taking us to 1,700 in total over the five years.
“If the cuts are spread between police officers and police staff, would for example see a reduction of 350 officers and 250 staff.
“It will be extremely difficult, almost impossible in fact, to restart police recruitment or end the compulsory retirement of police officers after thirty years’ service.
“We are hit doubly hard because the part of council tax that goes to policing in the West Midlands is low.
“Our low precept, the second lowest in the country, means we are more reliant on central grant funding, so the cuts have hit us harder.
Bob continued, “Given our uncertainty about funding for next year, coupled to the danger posed by these further cuts, I see real risk that crime could reach a tipping point and start to rise again as preventative policing is cut and we become trapped in a vicious spiral of reactive policing.”
Ian Edwards, chairman of the West Midlands branch of the Police Federation said he agreed with the commissioner and added that the cuts had lead to a crisis point for policing in the West Midlands.
He added: “Losing this many officers, on top of what we have already lost will make it much more difficult. We had been talking about restarting recruitment and stopping A19, but that does not now look likely.
“We have reached a point where we have no 18, 19 or 20-year-old officers.
“We are already at crisis point and a further six per cent will push us into critical levels.”
The latest cuts come as the force continues to struggle with the £126 million of government cuts since 2010.
In March the force revealed it was selling off Birmingham’s Steelhouse Lane station in the city centre and its Grade Two listed custody block to save cash.
The landmark station will be closed along with Queens Road, in Aston, and Belgrave Middleway in Edgbaston.
Officers from the axed stations could be moved into local shopping centres or even supermarkets instead.