LONDON, July 3 (UPI) -- The police force in England and Wales could be cut by 13,400 officers by 2015 as part of an effort to cut the total budget by 20 percent, officials said Monday.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary said in a report it is especially worried about the effect on London's Metropolitan Police, The Independent reported.
"The Metropolitan Police Service is considered a particular concern because of its outstanding savings requirement, its performance issues and not least the fact that it accounts for one-quarter of police spending," the report said.
Hundreds of police stations may be closed. Officials said some could be replaced with officers stationed in public libraries and similar places.
The HMIC said the 43 police departments in England and Wales appeared to have survived a first round of budget cutting without any drastic impact on public safety. But Sir Denis O'Connor said he was concerned about the effects of the cuts on the Lincolnshire force, which must police a large area and already has a low budget, and on Devon and Cornwall, which has been cutting expenses for several years.
A total of 32,400 jobs, including civilian positions, would have to be eliminated to meet budget targets. Of the police officers, 7,800 would be in back-office jobs and 5,600 in front-line positions.
Paul McKeever, chairman of the police federation, said many officers in back-office jobs have important roles. He said overall the cuts will hurt the "resilience" of the police forces.
But Nick Herbert, the minister for policing, took an optimistic view.
"This report makes it clear that the front line is being protected overall and that the service to the public has largely been maintained. The proportion of officers on the front line is increasing, the number of neighborhood officers has gone up, crime is down … and the response to emergency calls is being maintained."