Devon

Devon and Cornwall rural policing 'hit by cuts'

Policemen on beat
Image caption Devon and Cornwall Police is cutting 700 officers from the force

Rural areas of Devon and Cornwall will be hardest hit by police spending cuts, the area's police federation has said.

Last month Devon and Cornwall Police, which has announced £47m of savings, rolled-out 28 regional response "hubs".

There are fears resources will be sucked into cities and large towns, leaving fewer community officers.

But the police force said local policing teams would remain within existing stations to engage with communities.

Nigel Rabbits, from the Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said: "This is a direct result of government cuts.

"It's punishing low crime areas and rural police forces.

"Common sense says that with less resources there will be less police officers out and about in rural areas.

'Good job'

"Devon and Cornwall was a leader in community policing, it's a proven way of reducing crime and it drives down the fear of crime."

A former policewoman, who did not wish to be identified, told BBC Radio Devon the force's restructuring contributed to her decision to leave.

She said: "The public... don't want to see a patrol car driving by once a week.

"They want to see the police officer out there and that's not going to happen.

"We were doing an extremely good job, the public were aware that we were there and there was a lot of confidence in us."

Devon and Cornwall Police has previously said it plans to cut the number of officers in the force by 700, from the current total of 3,500.

Launching the response hubs last month, Assistant Chief Constable Paul Netherton said: "The changes will remove geographical boundaries with the nearest available unit being deployed, thus improving this vital and valuable service to our communities.

"These hubs have been placed in very specific locations that have been chosen to ensure officers are able to attend 999 incidents as quickly and as safely as possible.

"Our officers and staff in local policing teams will remain within existing stations to engage with communities and carry out local policing activities."

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