Concerns have been raised over the safety of retailers and staff after it emerged that thousands of police community support officers (PCSOs) across England and Wales could lose their jobs.

Leaked figures from the Association of Chief Police Officers show that officer numbers will fall by 12,000 and civilian staff, including PCSOs, will drop by 16,000.

While this is lower than the Police Federation's estimate of 40,000 total cuts, it still represents an 8% cut in officer numbers, and job losses for one in six civilian staff over four years.

When announcing the cuts last October Chancellor George Osborne said that "there will be no reduction in the availability and visibility of policing".

However, retailers have expressed concern over the cuts, as their point of contact with the police is often PCSOs. James Ratcliffe of Spar Accrington, Lancashire, said that without his local PCSO he wouldn't have been able to protect his store and staff.

"Our PCSO has been fantastic and remained in regular contact with us. He helps us out if there's an incident," he said. "I'm not sure we would get that level of service from regular officers who are extremely busy."