There needs to be a ‘complete rethink’ on local policing, the public is warned...

A looming policing crisis could see North Devon among the hardest hit areas in the region.

That was the warning after it was predicted up to £54million could be slashed from the Devon and Cornwall Police purse when the Government announces the results of its spending review in December.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg said they would have to 'completely rethink' policing, while Nigel Rabbitts, chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said he was concerned there would be fewer officers in North Devon.

"There will be a massive change in the style of policing and it would appear community policing will be the first to suffer," he said.

"If you dial 999 you will get a police response, but you won't see general patrols or police visiting schools. I think areas like North Devon and parts of Cornwall, because they are low crime and low impact areas, will feel the biggest cuts."

Mr Rabbitts predicted a freeze on police recruiting and said the 'real cuts' would fall on Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and other departments such as forensics.

Mr Hogg, who presented his findings to the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel on Friday, said he intends to ask council tax payers if they would be willing to pay more for their local policing.

Barnstaple county councillor and former police officer John Matthews, who as a member of 
the crime panel attended Friday's meeting, said: "There comes a 
time when you are not cutting the flesh, you are getting to the bone, and I think we are getting there now."

A consultation is set to begin in November.