MPs have approved a package of police cuts which Labour says will see at least 10,000 officers axed from England and Wales.
The Policing Minister Nick Herbert described the cuts of 20% as “challenging” but insisted that they were “manageable” over four years and the service to the public could be “maintained and indeed improved”.
But Labour claims the cuts, which were approved by 302 votes to 216, will mean at least 10,000 officers will go under the Government’s plans which start this year and run until 2015.
The vote, which saw the Government maintain a majority of 86, came as an opinion poll published in the Evening Standard showed 46% of the public think the cuts will lead to a “successful terrorist attack”. The poll also found 65.3% thought crime would rise and 71.6% expect anti-social behaviour to go up.
Mr Herbert told MPs the budget for Olympic security had been “prioritised” and up to £600 million would remain available although the Home Office expected it to come in at £475 million. The money needed for new police and crime commissioners did not come out of force budgets, he added.
And he repeated his call to forces to radically alter back office functions, which could even see control rooms and custody suites run by private companies. He told MPs: “I accept that the settlement is challenging but the Government believes it is manageable.
“If savings are made in the right areas the police service to the public can be maintained and indeed improved.”
But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper condemned the “crazy scale and pace of the cuts” which she said were the “biggest in a generation”.
She said: “The Government is taking a gamble with crime and policing just as they are taking a gamble with the economy.
“They are cutting too far and too fast, they are risking economic growth, risking jobs and now risking public safety and the fight against crime.”