THE head of local policing in south Worcestershire has said people can expect to see fewer police officers on the streets as inevitable cuts on public spending continue.

Chief Inspector Jerry Reakes-Williams made the comments as he faced questions at a Policing Matters meeting at Unity House, Stanley Road, Worcester.

Many members of the public at the meeting said they would like to see more fully warranted police officers patrolling the streets rather than community support officers. We previously reported in your Worcester News how CSOs have the powers but are are not trained to hand out fixed penalty notices as a means of enforcement.

Mr Reakes-Williams told the meeting the role of CSOs in south Worcestershire was to try and engage with younger members of the community rather than “criminalise” their behaviour.

And he warned people to expect to see even fewer police officers over the next few years as police budgets become increasingly stretched.

“With the state of public finances the reality is we are going to see less police rather than more,” he said.

“Whichever political party is in power is going to have some very difficult decisions to make.”

Mr Reakes-Williams said police in south Worcestershire would have to try and operate “smarter” rather than in larger numbers. He said: “I know people may like to see more police but my personal view is that we will see less.

“We have got to get smarter about what we do and make sure we have all our officers in the right place at the right time.

“It is not ideal but unfortunately, it is a reality.”

Mr Reakes-Williams’ predictions were supported by a recent govenment White Paper telling police forces in England and Wales to make annual savings of more than £500 million by 2014.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said forces should pool resources in forensic work and procurement to save cash.

The proposals come as a senior police figure said attempts to make bobbies spend more time on the beat have failed.

Jan Berry, the former head of the Police Federation, was hired by ministers to help cut formfilling and time-wasting chores.

Ms Berry said senior officers are obsessed with “performance tables” rather than providing neighbourhood policing.

She added: “It should be about what matters to the public.”