THE number of bobbies on the Bolton beat is falling, new figures reveal.

The Home Office has published statistics show-ing Greater Manchester Police shed 254 officers across the county in the 12 months up until last September 2013 — a 3.5 per cent fall.

Apart from The Met Police in London, GMP lost more officers in that period than any other force. Only The Met and West Midlands Police employ more officers than GMP.

The change leaves GMP with 7,069 officers and there could be even fewer but for two schemes. The force has also stepped up its attempts to bring in volunteer special constables.

The Home Office figures show GMP recruited 17 specials in the 12 months up to last September, making 727 in total, more than anywhere else in the country bar London and Thames Valley.

Reacting to the Home Office statistics on a fall in officer numbers, Bolton’s community safety repres-entative Cllr Derek Burrows said: “We would be concerned if this were to have an effect on policing in Bolton and if we start to see crime rising as a result.

“But I can understand the situation that GMP are in due to the budget cuts by this government.”

Assistant Chief Officer Lynne Potts, of GMP, said: “GMP, like all forces across the country, has been required to make savings.

“And as 83 per cent of our budget is spent on officers and staff, naturally this is where many of the reductions have been felt.

“The service is going through a challenging period, but we remain committed to providing members of the public with the service they both deserve and expect.

“Our officers continue to rise above the challenges they are presented with 24/7.

“The support officers receive from police staff, PCSOs and special constables is vital to the delivery of effective neighbourhood policing.”