The number of police officers in Wales has dropped by 753 since 2010 according to figures from the Police Federation.
The figures show the impact of Westminster budget cuts on frontline policing and has prompted renewed calls for responsibility over policing to be passed from Westminster to the National Assembly for Wales.
The Police Federation figures show that Gwent police have been worst hit, losing 22% of its police officers, with South Wales Police and North Wales Police losing 8% and Dyfed-Powys losing 4%. Overall the number of police officers in Wales has dropped by 10% since 2010.
In addition to the drop in number of police officers, the Police Federation data shows that 78% of police officers in Wales and England say that they do not have sufficient numbers of officers to do their job properly and 58% said they don’t have enough time to do their job properly.
Commenting on the figures, Plaid Cymru’s Home Office spokesperson, Liz Saville Roberts said:
“The British Government is putting public safety at risk in the name of their unnecessary obsession with shrinking public services.
“This is the result of sustained cuts to spending – a police force that is under-staffed, under-resourced and under pressure.
“No police force can lose 310 police officers in just five years – as Gwent Police Force has – without it affecting the force’s capacity to perform their duties of keeping the public safe and supporting the security services.
“We know that units such as Safer Neighbourhood Teams, which carry out crucial work in support of counter terrorism efforts, would have had six officers including a Sergeant and two Police Constables ten years ago, and they covered, on average, one council ward each. Now each team has an average of just three members of staff and cover areas that are 75 per cent bigger than before.
“These are the unseen consequences of Westminster austerity and although unseen, the real impact is the public as a whole are less safe.
“The UK Government will say that crime rates are low but this goes beyond crime on the streets – this will impact extremism, radicalisation and gangs. The police are now expected to deal with 21st century crime such as cybersecurity, fraud and online grooming while also keeping police officer on the beat.
“Plaid Cymru has long advocated transferring responsibility over Welsh policing from Westminster to Wales, allowing us to escape the London-centric one-size-fits-all approach to policing but it is also crucial that we do so to protect police funding.
“We will continue to make the case for the police in both Wales and England to be properly resources but it remains the case that if policing was devolved, the Welsh police forces would be better off by £25 million per year – more than enough to replace those lost officers.
“Westminster has no justification for keeping their hands on Welsh policing and the longer it continues, the deeper the cuts will be and ultimately it is public safety that will pay the price.”