POLICE forces are "close to breaking point" in the face of ongoing spending cuts, the man responsible for organising policing in Gwent has warned.

Police and crime commissioner Jeff Cuthbert was speaking after a Parliamentary report warned public confidence in the police had been "severely dented" as falling budgets and drops in staff numbers resulted in fewer arrests and fewer bobbies on the beat.

The Public Accounts Committee report said the number of crimes resulting in charges or court summons dropped from 15 per cent in March 2015 to nine per cent in March this year, and officers were carrying out less proactive work such as breathalyser tests.

"Forces are struggling to deliver an effective service", it said. "It is taking longer to charge offences, they are making fewer arrests, they are doing less neighbourhood policing, and public satisfaction is declining."

Mr Cuthbert said the findings of the report echoed previous warnings made the police bodies.

"For quite some time we’ve pointed out the problems for the delivery of acceptable policing services if there is no change to government funding," he said.

"The report highlights this accurately and starkly.

"The government have claimed that they’ve protected police funding.

"But the truth is that in Gwent we’ve managed to maintain a flat-line budget only through raising the local policing precept. In other words, shifting the burden from central government to local council taxpayers."

He added: "The message to the UK Government is clear – good quality policing needs to be paid for.

"Many police forces are close to breaking point. Let’s hope that the UK Government acts positively on the report’s findings."

Islwyn MP Chris Evans, who is a member of the Public Accounts Committee, also spoke out about the report.

"The failure to fund police sufficiently has a real impact," he said.

"The police cannot do everything, they are being forced to priorities, this means less officers on the streets and less crime prevention.

"Despite being aware the police funding formula had needed reform for three years the Home Office has taken no action."

A Home Office spokesman said: "We are on the front foot in engaging with the police and recognise the changing demands they are facing.

"The government's balanced approach to the economy has helped ensure there is £1 billion more of public money going into policing than three years ago, and the home secretary has been clear that he will prioritise police funding.

"As the chancellor noted in the budget, we will review police spending power at the provisional police funding settlement in December."