The number of police officers helping to keep communities safe in the North East has dropped by hundreds as the impact of budget cuts hit.
New figures show that Northumbria Police has 3,288 officers at the last check, compared to 3,920 back in 2012.
The details come as part of an analysis which has taken a look at the impact of staffing levels, focusing on neighbourhood policing.
The numbers show that of the total number of officers it employed last year, 486 were neighbourhood officers, with the total number of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) being 162.62, of which, 152.97 were neighbourhood PCSOs.
Compared to 2012, there has been a reduction of 632.25 or a 16.13 per cent decrease in the overall figure of officers across its ranks.
In terms of neighbourhood officers, there are 96.70 fewer, which equates to a fall of 16.49 per cent, and the drop in neighbourhood officers and PCSOs combined is 363.67 – 36.14 per cent down. The difference in neighbourhood PCSOs in isolation between 2012 and 2017 is a decrease of 63.57 per cent.
The data, complied by the BBC, also show the number of officers per 1,000 people stood at 0.44, with a population, as of 2016, of 1,444,480, with the force placed 18th in the list of 48 across the country in terms of its staffing.
In response to the figures, a Home Office spokesperson said: “The independent Office for National Statistics is clear that overall traditional crime is continuing to fall, and is now down by almost 40 per cent since 2010, while fraud and computer misuse – the most commonly experienced crime – has reduced by 15 per cent in the past year.
“We know the nature of crime is changing, and we’ve spoken to every police force in the country to understand the demands they are facing.
“In December, we set out a comprehensive settlement to strengthen local and national policing, which will mean police funding will increase by up to £450 million next year.
“We are clear that effective local policing needs to be about more than just visibility in isolation.
“With crime increasingly taking place behind closed doors and online, it is also about safeguarding vulnerable groups or individuals and giving the police the powers they need to deal with emerging and hidden crimes.”
The department added the police workforce has remained stable over the past year following on from the Government’s decision to protect police funding at the 2015 Spending Review. The Provisional Funding Settlement will increase funding by up to £450million across the police system for 2018/19, which will include an up-to-£270million increase in force budgets.
However, before Christmas, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, said: “Once again, the Government is moving the burden of proper police funding onto council taxpayers through the police precept. The Government is telling me if I don’t increase the precept by the figure they have used in their funding formula, Northumbria will have less money in real terms to spend on priorities such as neighbourhood policing.”