Crime is increasing in Gloucestershire because there are fewer officers on the beat, says Gloucestershire Police Federation.
The force has lost around 240 officers since 2010, with new Office of National Statistics data showing knife crime rose by 13% in 2018 compared to 2017.
Recorded burglaries were up 15%, as was violent crime, the figures revealed.
Federation Chairman Mike Harrison said years of cuts to police budgets were now coming home to roost.
“I think a lot of it is down to sheer numbers of police officers. We’ve lost around 240 officers since 2010, and just a sheer lack of resources has a knock-on effect on crime figures,” he said.
“Fewer officers means fewer people to detect crimes, to follow-up crimes and to be out there keeping the public safe.
“You see neighbourhood officers out and about in the urban and rural areas,” he said, “but as a whole, you see fewer police officers because we are all busy dealing with incidents ongoing.
“So, the days of police officers walking the beat, unfortunately, are limited at the moment.”
The Government has continuously failed to see the link between officer numbers and the rise in crime, let alone take any steps to address the issue, Mike added.
“The link is there for everyone to see. Unfortunately, the Government aren’t seeing it or aren’t willing to admit the connection is there.
“If you look back 10 or 15 years when officers were out there, they were highly visible when our numbers were at their peak, and crime was probably at its lowest. Having that visible deterrent will deter offenders from committing crime.
“I don’t think you need any statistical expert or any policing expert to tell you that. It’s just unfortunate the Government don’t see it or don’t accept that,” he said.
Nationally, the public is now more concerned about crime than they are about health according to a recent YouGov report, a real barometer about how crime is starting to affect communities.
Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins also went on record to warn that 600 offences a day cannot be followed up by his officers, due to lack of numbers on the frontline.
In Gloucestershire, the severity of the crime is one factor determining how it is triaged.
“The severity of the crime and the rate at which it needs to be investigated [are looked at]”, Mike said.
“So, if you’ve got an urgent crime being reported then we’ll deal with it there and then.
“We’ve got an urgent investigation team that looks at those and then decides whether there’s anything evidential to follow up or whether the crime will be dealt with and closed with a phone call there and then.
“We’ve got to do that because, as numerous people have said, we haven’t got the staff to investigate every single crime, which is frustrating, and I can understand why the public would have concerns about that.
“Unfortunately, it’s just the realities of policing and society today. We’ve got to do more with less,” he said.
“It’s frustrating – officers are being asked to do more. Detectives’ workloads are getting to tipping point. Those on the frontline, response teams, their caseloads are growing, and they’re not able to follow up the crimes they perhaps want to follow up effectively because they’re being pushed from pillar to post, job to job.
“Things are dropping by the wayside. Officers may be missing updates or may be missing lines of enquiry purely by the nature of the beast and the job they’re being asked to do at the moment.”