Cuts in police numbers divide rival candidates
LABOUR'S candidate to run Devon and Cornwall's policing has vowed to challenge cuts in the force.
Plymouth councillor Nicky Williams said that 343 frontline police officers in the force had already been cut.
Ms Williams is contesting the November election for the new American-style Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall.
She pledged to "stand up for Devon and Cornwall against the Tories' 20 per cent cuts to policing".
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"I won't stand by and let the Tories become cheerleaders for the police cuts in Devon and Cornwall," Ms Williams said. "I will stand up to protect this community and fight crime.
"I will certainly challenge the cuts.
"The difference between me and the Tories is that they are very unlikely to make a murmur against the cuts.
"Figures today show that there has been an 11 per cent drop in the number of frontline officers here.
"The Tories should be trying to fight crime and support the police. Instead they are cutting your police officers. They don't have a proper plan to cut crime.
"We need real change from this Government to make our streets safer."
Tony Hogg, the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate, said it was "a little hypocritical" of Ms Williams to criticise the cuts because "I believe Labour is signed up to the necessity for public sector cuts".
"It will be the Police Commissioner's job to make the most effective use of money provided by the Government, and to set local priorities," Mr Hogg said.
It would also be the Commissioner's role to argue for a fair deal on police funding for Devon and Cornwall.
A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said: "The comprehensive spending review has meant Devon and Cornwall Police has to save £51million over four years, with an inevitable loss of 700 police officers and 500 police staff.
"Before the review the force had already carried out a large number of changes in our back office functions which saw us make considerable savings and put 200 police officers back on the front line.
"Achieving the correct balance between the front line and back office is essential for us to deliver a balanced, efficient police service and the force will continue to protect the front line where possible."