Nearly 6,000 fewer police will be on the streets in the three years' time as the government's budget cuts take hold, it has been revealed.
Nationwide, there will be 5,800 fewer frontline officers, but the proportion of officers on the frontline will increase to between 81% and 95% as the number of non-frontline officers is almost halved, with 7,600 going by 2015 A report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found.
Although the figures do not include those for Britain's biggest force, the Metropolitan Police, or for Cheshire, as they have not yet produced their plans, the report claims that the cuts may lead three police services, including the Met Police, may be unable to sufficiently serve the public by 2015.
The Met was named as one of three forces which may not be able to provide an efficient or effective service for the public in the future.
"In our professional judgment (and having considered local context, including police cost to the taxpayer), there is a risk that three forces may not be able to provide a sufficiently efficient or effective service for the public in the future," the inspectorate's report said.
These were Lincolnshire and Devon & Cornwall, as well as the Met, the HMIC said.
In the last year, the overall police workforce has been reduced by 17,600 officers and staff, more than half of the total reductions planned by March 2015, the inspectorate added.
Sir Denis O'Connor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said the Met needed to have a plan to tackle its £233 million funding gap by the autumn.
Asked about the concerns over the Met, Sir Denis said: "The essence of it is they've got a £233 million gap.
"They've already got plans to take over £500 million out, so this is on top of that.
"It will obviously start after the Olympics."
The criticism comes after Bernard Hogan-Howe was brought in to lead the force after the phone-hacking scandal led to the resignations of Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and Assistant Commissioner John Yates.
It also comes after Stephen Greenhalgh, who was appointed as the London Mayor's Deputy Mayor for Policing a month ago, repeatedly told the London Assembly he was "not an expert on operational policing matters".
Policing Minister Nick Herbert said: "This report makes it clear that the frontline of policing is being protected overall and that the service to the public has largely been maintained.
"The proportion of officers on the frontline is increasing, the number of neighbourhood officers has gone up, crime is down, victim satisfaction is improving and the response to emergency calls is being maintained.
"While there are particular challenges in three forces, we know that the vast majority are rising to the challenge of reducing budgets while protecting service to the public."