POLICE officers are ‘struggling to meet demand’ because of austerity, the boss of the Thames Valley force federation has said.

Pc Craig O’Leary warned the Government ‘must do more’ to ‘properly fund’ the police service if it is to keep people safe and reduce crime.

The force will have lost 356 officers by 2018 compared to 2011, as the cuts to its formula grant from the Home Office continue to bite.

It is expected a further 59 officer posts are to be lost over the next three years as the force braces to make a further £22m of savings to bring the total amount of cuts to more than £88m since 2011.

Pc O’Leary, chairman of the federation, the body which represents rank-and-file officers serving in Oxfordshire, said the force was becoming a ‘reactionary service’ and it needed funding to prevent it happening.

He added: “I would like to see further funding for the police to enable us to deliver a better service to the public.

“It is what they expect and what they deserve.

“We hear Theresa May banging on about cyber crime, but we have knife crime and violent crime on the increase and we cannot address it because we do not have enough neighbourhood policing officers to do long term problem-solving police work which will prevent it.”

Latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics revealed crime across Oxfordshire is on the rise, with a jump of almost five per cent in reported offences in a year including a surge in violent crime and shoplifting in Oxford.

Between April and December 2016, 108,122 crimes in the county were reported to Thames Valley Police, compared to 103,413 over the same period in 2015 and 100,804 in 2014.

Anthony Stansfeld, police and crime commissioner for the region, said figures have caused him concern.

Funding reductions from the Government mean the force has lost hundreds of officers since the start of the decade.

The federation has criticised the £1bn deal confidence and supply deal between the Conservatives and DUP. The body questioned how the ‘all that cash’ was ‘magically found’, when the Government ‘couldn’t find a fraction’ to fund the service.