AN MP is warning that dozens of Mid Cheshire police could be cut in a bid to balance books.
Eddisbury MP Stephen O'Brien made the claims after a report by the Association of Chief Police Officers warned Government proposals to merge police forces and provide protective services cannot be achieved 'without additional Government funding'.
Mr O'Brien said a decision to freeze the Home Office budget could mean police forces across the country are forced to cut their workforces.
The report highlights that 'forces will need around 6% to 7% cashable savings per annum... through staff reductions... equivalent to holding (deleting) 25,000 police officer posts nationally.'
Mr O'Brien said that would be the equivalent of 54 posts in the Congleton and Vale Royal area.
He said: 'I believe the public want to see more, not fewer, uniformed police officers patrolling the streets.
'Despite this, the Government is driving through the abolition of the county-based Cheshire police and the costly proposed merger with the Merseyside force, with insufficient debate, scrutiny, resources and against the wishes of local people.
'First it was hospitals being forced to cut frontline staff, now I fear that our police forces could be next.'
Ken Jones, president of ACPO, said: 'ACPO has no plans to reduce police numbers by 25,000 and, more over, ACPO would not stand by and oversee such a cut in numbers. However, it would be irresponsible of us not to look at future scenarios, even those we don't like.
'The fact is that if all signalled reforms were to take place, including restructuring, this would inevitably impact on the money we have to pay for police officers and police staff. We are actively working with government to avoid this situation and they have agreed that the police reform programme must be reprioritised so as to make it sensible and affordable.'
Plans to merge the Cheshire and Merseyside forces are still on the cards, though new Home Secretary John Reid is understood to be reconsidering any changes at present while he sorts out problems in the department.