Police forces will need to make massive reductions in bureaucracy as they struggle to cut police numbers without letting crime go up, MPs have warned.
A powerful Commons committee expressed concern about the dramatic cuts facing forces including West Midlands Police, after quizzing the Chief Constable Chris Sims.
Mr Sims told the Home Affairs Select Committee that he would be forced to lose 2,200 posts, including 1,000 police officers and 1,200 police staff.
Giving evidence during a visit to the House of Commons, he warned that West Midlands Police had been hit harder than other forces by Government spending cuts.
MPs have now published a report based on their inquiry, which also heard evidence from chief constables in forces such as Greater Manchester.
They warned: “The loss of posts will have an impact on the range of services that the police provide and the way in which they are provided.
“The primary mission of the police is to prevent crime and disorder. In order to fulfil this mission in the immediate future, police forces will have to cut back on some of the activities that they currently undertake.”
The MPs added: “In the context of reducing police numbers, it will clearly be crucial that police forces manage the time of police officers and police staff in the most efficient and effective way possible.
"In particular, we would like to see an end to unnecessary bureaucracy and encourage the Government to continue taking urgent steps to achieve this.”
However, the MPs also struck an optimistic note as they said crime would not necessarily increase.
“We accept that there is no simple relationship between numbers of police officers and levels of crime. The reduction in the police workforce need not inevitably lead to a rise in crime.”
A majority of the committee members were members of the governing Conservative or Liberal Democrat parties. Other members included Steve McCabe (Lab Birmingham Selly Oak) and David Winnick (Lab Walsall North).
Committee chairman Keith Vaz said: “Police forces in England and Wales face a challenging future. There is no doubt that the Government is requiring significant savings from the police and whilst the link between police officer numbers and levels of crime is complex, in the police service the largest proportion of budgets by far is spent on the workforce.
“In order to make these savings, police forces will have to rethink and reduce the range of services that they provide and the way in which they provide those services.”