Crime could rise as one in ten police officers will be axed due to spending cuts, the policing watchdog said yesterday.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) warned that over 34,000 policing jobs will be lost over the next four years. Of these, 16,200 will be officers and 34,000 will be support and administrative staff.

Numbers of police officers will fall to 127,600 – 11 per cent – the same level as they were in 2001/2.

The group said that a 10 percent cut in police numbers could cause a three per cent rise in crime. Frontline officers would be at their lowest for 15 years.

Sir Denis O’Connor, Chief Inspector of Constabulary said the police service is facing “fundamental change on a fundamental scale.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the cuts would be “incredibly difficult”.

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The Minister for Crime, James Brokenshire, said that despite the job cuts, frontline services would not be harmed and that money would be saved by cutting waste and bureaucracy. Home Secretary Theresa May has also insisted that police numbers could be cut without driving up crime or affecting officers on the frontline.

The shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The Home Secretary has said the cuts don't need to affect the number of officers or front line services.

"But the independent inspectorate's report shows that is wrong. Many forces have no choice but to cut front line officers because of the scale and pace of the Government cuts.

"Theresa May has put chief constables up and down the country in an impossible position."

Police forces will see a 20 per cent cut in overall funding due to the government spending cuts. A HMIC report published today said that a third of cuts had already taken place by March this year.