Dramatic drop in young police officers on the beat in Plymouth
NEW figures reveal a sharp fall in the numbers of young police officers on the beat in the last two years.
Devon and Cornwall has seen one of the biggest drops in the country, with around 68 per cent less police officers under 26 in 2011-12 than in 2009-10.
On average, the number of young police officers in England and Wales has fallen by nearly 50 per cent.
There were 9,088 officers aged under 26 in 2009-10 but only 4,758 in 2011-12.
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The figures, obtained in a Freedom of Information request, showed that Devon and Cornwall saw one of the biggest falls in the country, with only Cleveland, North Wales, Staffordshire and Cheshire seeing larger drops.
Overall the number of police officers has been reducing, hitting a nine-year low in 2012.
This has been put down to tighter budgets which have slowed recruitment, however these statistics show that much of the fall has been among officers under 26.
It is thought that the police service in England and Wales has faced budget cuts of around 20 per cent over the last four years.
The only regions to increase the numbers of young police officers in the last two years were Surrey and the City of London.
Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg highlighted the importance of having police officers who could identify with young people.
He said: "In part these figures are the result of the secession of recruitment in Devon and Cornwall because of government budget cuts.
"It's very important that the police reflect the community around them especially as concerns the interests and issues of young people.
"It's also important to balance experienced officers with the numbers of young officers."
Mr Hogg added: "We are working on the budget which we will present to the Police and Crime Panel on February 8.
"We will look to make room in the budget to recruit young police officers, but that is very much the subject of our budget review and with the agreement of the Police and Crime Panel."