Devon and Cornwall rural police numbers 'cut by half'

Graham Sleep
Image caption Shoplifting victim Graham Sleep said he does not see police officers on the beat anymore

Numbers of police officers based in rural police stations in Devon and Cornwall have been reduced by half or more, figures obtained by the BBC show.

Camelford, Dartmouth, Hayle, St Ives and Tiverton had the worst cuts with Callington, Ilfracombe and Tavistock, also seeing reductions, since 2010.

Between 2010 and 2014, the force lost £51 million from budgets and around 500 officers.

Devon and Cornwall Police said officers were deployed "according to need".

But, the counties' police federation said the cuts had had a "big impact on rural policing" through the need to maintain emergency response levels.

Data released to the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act detailed the number of officers based at every police station in Devon and Cornwall from 2010 - 2014.

Image caption Nigel Rabbitts said officers have been moved from neighbourhood beats to maintain the 999 emergency services

The figures show the number of officers based in Dartmouth fell from 16 to three, in Hayle from 19 to five, in Tiverton from 50 to 24 and in Camelford from seven to three.

But police stations like Plymouth Crownhill, Newquay and Truro saw smaller falls, or even rises in staff numbers.

Graham Sleep, from Camelford, who was a victim of shoplifting, said he did not see officers "on the beat any more".

"You feel much more confident with more police around," he added.

Nigel Rabbitts, chairman of the police federation in Devon and Cornwall, said: "Many police officers have been moved from neighbourhood beats to maintain the 999 emergency service in the face of cuts, and that's had a big impact on rural policing".

Devon and Cornwall Police said: "We take our responsibilities in respect of rural policing very seriously and we continue to deploy officers to stations and locations according to need, in both rural and urban areas."

A Home Office spokesman stressed: "Police reform is working and crime has been falling."

The number of officers based in police stations between December 2010 and December 2014

In rural stations:

  • Axminster - 8 to 5
  • Braunton - 7 to 1
  • Bude - 17 to 11
  • Callington - 11 to 6
  • Camelford - 7 to 3
  • Dartmouth - 16 to 3
  • Hayle - 19 to 5
  • Holsworthy - 8 to 4
  • Ilfracombe - 33 to 17
  • Looe - 13 to 2
  • Perranporth - 7 to 1
  • Seaton - 8 to 5
  • St Ives - 18 to 3
  • Tavistock - 31 to 18
  • Tiverton - 50 to 24
  • Wadebridge - 13 to 8

For bigger centres:

  • Camborne - 165 to 169
  • Plymouth Crownhill - 212 - 191
  • Exmouth - 58 to 49
  • Newquay - 71 to 80
  • Truro - 70 to 61

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