'Erosion' of neighbourhood policing 'undermining public safety', Labour claims

Terrorists could benefit from the "erosion" of neighbourhood policing, Labour has warned after a survey of community support officers revealed the scale of cuts.

The study by Unison, which involved nearly 1,000 officers, found three quarters of those surveyed had seen numbers reduced in localised teams.

More than half of the police community support officers (PCSOs), 57%, had been redeployed to other areas of policing away from the neighbourhood beat, and 77% said their team now had less visibility than before.

Labour's shadow police minister, Jack Dromey, warned the cuts could aid terrorists.

"These findings have extremely worrying implications for counter-terrorism.

"As police chiefs have made starkly clear post-Paris, local officers who are closely engaged with communities have a crucial role in identifying threats at an early stage and preventing serious attacks from happening.

"Cuts to neighbourhood teams are undermining public safety and putting the police under greater strain.

"PCSOs are the heart of neighbourhood policing, and yet they are being stripped back in most forces. To make matters worse, as well as keeping communities safe, our police officers increasingly have to pick up the pieces where other services have been cut.

"PCSOs around the country are right to be concerned at the progressive hollowing out of neighbourhood policing teams seen under the Tories," Mr Dromey said.