A new Labour analysis has suggested that projected Tory cuts to funding will take police numbers back to the same level as 40 years ago.
Using existing plans for projecting forward spending, Labour said that government spending on police in real terms will fall by £850 million over the next Parliament if Theresa May is re-elected.
There are currently 122,859 officers in the 43 police forces in England and Wales, which Labour claims would be reduced by 16,732 over the next 5 years.
A reduction of this scale would mean a total workforce of 106,127.
Such a low number of police has not been seen since 1978.
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said: “Theresa May has already said she wants to cut police budgets by further 850 million. That adds up to another 16,000 officers gone.
“A vote for Theresa May is a vote for the smallest police force in 40 years.”
Watson is also due to go on the attack against the PM during a speech on Monday.
Speaking in Edgbaston, Birmingham, he is expected to say: “Theresa May thought she could waltz off to the polls and come back with a staggering majority. Right now the only thing that’s staggering is the Tory campaign.
“Theresa May’s great political skill, until now, was to project an image that’s completely at odds with her own record in office.
“Just take what she did as Home Secretary. She promised she could cut police budgets without affecting frontline policing - and then she cut 12,000 frontline officers and 6,000 Police Community Support Officers. And now serious and violent crimes are on the rise again.”
He will add: “She likes to tell us that she’s strong and stable. A Ronseal politician - it does exactly what it says on the tin.
“Closer inspection of a Ronseal tin reveals that what it actually says on there is ‘may perform poorly in unpredictable conditions’ and ‘will need replacing within five years’.
“Whatever the result, whether she wins or loses, and even if she increases her majority, she will come out of the last seven weeks a diminished figure.”