NEARLY nine out of 10 Lancashire bobbies believe budget cuts will lead to a rise in crime.
The Lancashire Police Federation quizzed more than 1,100 rank and file officers in the county in the wake of spending reductions of 20 per cent being imposed by government.
Today the Federation was due to lobby Home Secretary Theresa May when she addresses its annual conference in Bournemouth.
The poll found 89 per cent of officers believe offending will rise and almost 99 per cent said morale had fallen.
Lancashire Police Federation chairman John O’Reilly said: “The message from police officers in Lancashire is loud and clear.
“They feel they are being hit from all sides by this government who, in addition to attacking their terms and conditions, are imposing a 20 per cent cut on the service which will undoubtedly lead to increased levels of crime and a poorer service for the public in Lancashire.”
Lancashire Police has to find savings of £41m over the next four years as part of the Government’s spending review, and is proposing to reduce the number of police officers by 550.
The survey was completed by 42,000 officers in England and Wales, with 1,152 respondents from Lancashire.
More than 84 per cent of respondents in the county believed their workload had either increased or would increase due to the economies, 91 per cent predicted the cuts would cause a decline in the service offered to the public, and 90 per cent felt the changes being brought in to pay and conditions would lead to officers quitting the force on financial grounds.
Mr O’Reilly added: “Cuts of this magnitude are criminal and, despite the very best efforts of rank and file police officers, they will undoubtedly lead to a poorer service for the residents and businesses in Lancashire.”
The Federation has already attacked four Fylde coast Tory MPs – Ben Wallace, Paul Maynard, Mark Menzies and Eric Ollerenshaw – for voting in favour of the cuts, and has accused them of disregarding public fears.
But MPs have hit back, saying there is capacity to make substantial back office savings without impacting on frontline services.
Mr Maynard said a recent report had shown more than 80 per cent of expenditure was on pay, while Mr Ollerenshaw called for Lancashire Police to “re-look” at their prioritise in order to make savings on administration.
Mr Wallace said there were parts of the police force “not coming to terms with the fact the debt left by Labour is so big we have to deal with it.”
Yesterday officers from Lancashire gave Policing Minister Nick Herbert a lukewarm response when he spoke at the conference.