MORE than 150 frontline officers from Hampshire Constabulary have been lost in the last three years, despite violent crime increasing in places such as Southampton.

Figures from the Home Office reveal 156 officers, in roles categorised as ‘visible operational frontline’, have gone from the force between March 2015 and this year – a drop of 10 per cent.

Over the same period, the number of violent crimes recorded in the county has grown by 85 per cent, a reversing a long-term drop.

It comes just days after new research found that thousands of crimes, including burglaries, car thefts and shoplifting, are going unsolved throughout Hampshire.

In the 12 months to March this year, 52,834 violent crimes were recorded.

In total, there were 1,449 officers in visible front line roles this March.

The Police Federation says that a reduction in the “eyes and ears” of England and Wales’ police services is causing communities to suffer.

Its chairman, John Apter, formerly head of the Hampshire branch until earlier this summer, said: “Neighbourhood officers represent the backbone of policing in this country – local officers who are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the service, providing a reassuring presence on the streets helping to detect and prevent crimes.

“The government has to acknowledge that as violent crime increases, and with the ever-

present threat of terrorism, the cuts to the service are coming home to roost and it is our communities that are suffering as a result.”

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: “Forces are changing how they deliver local policing to reflect the priorities of local people and so that they can respond better to the changing nature of crime.”

Last week, research showed police close investigations without identifying a suspect in 80 per cent of household burglaries, 75 per cent of reported vehicle thefts, and more than 50 per cent of shoplifting cases.