"DRASTIC" cuts to police budgets could leave the county with a force responding only to 999 calls, federation officials have warned.

Hampshire Police Federation fears the county force will lose 1,000 officers by 2017 and officers are "at risk of becoming an endangered species”.

The county's police and crime commissioner has rejected the claims, arguing plans are in place to protect neighbourhood policing.

The force has already made savings of £55 million in recent years and is looking to cut £25 million from its budget over the next two years.

Launching its campaign #CutsHaveConsequences, the federation said the force could be brought “to its knees” by budget cuts, which it said were “too drastic and too deep”.

The federation, which represents PCs, sergeants and inspectors, says Hampshire Police has lost more than 600 officers and there are fears that there could be 400 lost in the next two years.

Hampshire Chronicle: John Apter, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation.

John Apter, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation

It says this could spell the end of police patrols with officers going from emergency call to call.

The federation claims roads policing officers have fallen by a third since 2008, 33 police stations will be sold in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight by 2018, there are 30 fewer traffic police officers and seven dog handler posts have been axed.

The force faces losing more than 500 officers by 2016, in addition to the 456 officer jobs and 520 staff posts axed in the last wave of cuts.

The force is also in the middle of a money saving shake-up, with about 2,500 police officers, police staff investigators and PCSOs being moved to other stations.

“Police stations have been closed, specialist units have been reduced and police officers are at risk of becoming an endangered species,” said John Apter, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation.

“The public are losing vital skills, experience and as a result protection.

“Police officers will simply become people who turn up when there is trouble.

“This is wrong. We need cops in communities. Neighbourhood policing is the lifeblood of policing, where we reassure the public and gather vital intelligence.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Winchester's police station, in North Walls

Winchester's North Walls police station is set to close this year

He claimed officers feel unsupported and under-resourced and are “policing with their hands tied behind their back”.

However, Simon Hayes, police and crime commissioner for Hampshire, said HM Inspectorate of Constabulary recently found Hampshire Constabulary was performing well, despite the cuts, and is putting victims at the heart of policing.

“I have fought hard to make sure that neighbourhood policing remains alive and well.

“These plans are in place, including as much extra local funding as possible to protect officer numbers and maintaining the number of PCSOs.

“It is the threat of further Government cuts, rather than the quality of today's policing that the Federation should focus on.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Thirteen parish councils lobbied Hampshire crime commissioner Simon Hayes

Hampshire police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes

However, he did acknowledge that the loss of around £80m in Government funding had already taken a significant toll on an “already lean and efficient low cost force”.

Chief constable Andy Marsh said independent evidence showed communities were getting a good service.

“We continue to plan well ahead enabling us to sustain the vital services that people care about, including neighbourhood policing and protecting vulnerable people.”

But he said he understood and would work to address concerns, adding that further challenges lay ahead.

“If budgets are cut further beyond 2016/17 we will be hit disproportionately hard and we will have no other option but to further reduce our frontline services," he added.