THERE are fewer emergency workers in Dorset compared to a decade ago, figures suggest.

While the country is still responding to the coronavirus pandemic, police, fire and ambulance staff unions are calling for more funding to protect frontline services.

Home Office and NHS Digital figures show the equivalent of 3,885 full-time emergency workers were employed by organisations covering Dorset this year – 7 per cent fewer than in 2011.

Among them were the 1,087 frontline police officers in Dorset Police's ranks as of March 31, according to the Home Office data.

Assistant Chief Officer Jo Mosley, of Dorset Police, said: “The public will be fully aware that between 2011 and 2019 police forces across the country faced significant budget cuts from the Government, which had a direct impact on our ability to recruit new police officers.

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“Throughout this time we adapted our resources and worked relentlessly to continue to provide the best possible service to the communities of Dorset.

“Over the past 18 months Dorset Police has been working hard to recruit an extra 59 police officers as part of this national drive.

“The total number of officers in Dorset has risen to 1,326, which is an increase from 1,267 and the highest level for 10 years.”

Meanwhile, the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service had the equivalent of 825 full-time firefighters responding to emergencies as of the end of March – 273 fewer than in 2011.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Andy Cole said: “The number of firefighters employed at any one time fluctuates considerably, as people retire or move on to other jobs.

“Dorset & Wiltshire FRS is predominantly served by on-call firefighters – in fact, nearly two thirds of our operational workforce is on-call – and the most important thing for us is that sufficient hours of cover are provided to ensure a 24/7 response.

“How many people it takes to provide that cover can vary significantly, depending on how much commitment individuals are able to offer.

He added: “46 of our 50 fire stations have on-call firefighters, and 38 are on-call only, so we are constantly recruiting in these areas.

It was a different story for the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, which saw its ambulance staff numbers increase 5 per cent from 1,873 in September 2011, to 1,973 as of July this year.

The Government said it had "consistently" given emergency services the resources they need to keep people safe.