Thames Valley Police could 'cope with more cuts' says Theresa May
Thames Valley Police could cope with more cuts as one of the most successful forces in Britain, the Home Secretary has said.
Theresa May was speaking at a cross-party debate in Maidenhead where she is standing for re-election as MP.
Her comments go against the force's crime commissioner and fellow Tory Anthony Stansfeld, who said the force could not afford another budget slash.
She said despite cuts, crime had fallen by about 30% in five years in the area.
'More restorative justice'
The force saved £58m in the past five years and needs to save a further £45m.
Mrs May said: "Here in the Thames Valley, crime has fallen by around 30% over the last five years; that is the highest fall of any police force of England and Wales.
"It is thanks to the hard work of police officers and staff that crime has fallen that way here in the Thames Valley. There is no direct link between the number of officers and the rate of crime. What matters is actually how you deploy those officers."
Maidenhead's Labour candidate Charles Smith said Labour would strive to "protect some of the frontline policing by getting rid of the disastrous role of police and crime commissioners" and forces sharing services such as procurement.
UKIP candidate Herbie Crossman said he was astonished at the idea of cutting police budgets in an "expanding nation".
He said: "We've got more problems coming from other countries now wanting to do certain damage to our nation, so how can you cut down on our police force?"
Lib Dem candidate Tony Hill said his party had a more "compassionate" view:
"One of the best ways is to stop banging so many people up in jail, and bringing in more systems of restorative justice."
The Green Party said its candidate, Emily Blyth, was not able to attend the debate.