THE number of neighbourhood police officers on the beat in West Mercia has dropped by 14 per cent over the last five years, it has emerged.

Figures released by the BBC Shared Data Unit show that there were 65 less neighbourhood police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) in 2017 when compared with five years ago.

A breakdown of the reductions in the police workforce shows that there were 18 per cent less neighbourhood officers and 11 per cent less PCSOs in 2017 than there was in 2012.

West Mercia Police saw its overall workforce figures drop from 2,190 officers in 2012 to 2,055 last year, a drop of six per cent.

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion, who took up his post in May 2016, said his budget proposals for the coming year deliver on a desire for communities to see money spent on the frontline.

“A greater proportion of resources will be focused in our communities and on our streets. That includes a commitment to protect our numbers of PCs and PCSOs,” he said.

“Whilst there was a reduction in police numbers long before I took office, the numbers of officers have picked back up and stabilised in the last few years, with almost 100 more officers today than we have four years ago, and more than a 10 per cent increase in the number of PCSOs than we had three years ago.”

“As well as sustaining numbers, our communities have asked for an increase in police visibility and I am delivering on this promise through the investments I have made in mobile technology.

“Our officers and PCSOs are able to spend more time in our communities, responding to changing demands and delivering the efficient and effective service that the public expect.”

The data also shows that the number of police officers per 100,000 people in the West Mercia area is down by five per cent. The number of officers per 1,000 people is down marginally by 0.05 per cent.

Between 2012 and 2017, office numbers dropped from a total of 2,190 in 2012 to 1,966 in 2014.

Officers numbers rose in 2015 and 2016 to 2,079 only to drop again last year.

Overall workforce figures were cut by 1.1 per cent from 2016 to 2017, with 24 less officers.

However, the number of neighbourhood police officers and PCSOs increased by 14 per cent during the same time from 208 in 2016 to 239 in 2017.