VIOLENT crime will rise when up to 20,000 police jobs are axed because of savage spending cuts, MPs were warned today.

The Police Federation pointed to the example of New York City - more "rapes, murders and robberies" - as evidence of the frightening impact of taking officers off the streets.

And it piled pressure on the government to think again by highlighting how officers with the greatest experience and crime-fighting skills would be "lost first".

Only those with 30 years' service can be made redundant - and only by invoking regulation A19 of the pensions regulations, the body representing rank-and-file officers told a parliamentary inquiry.

The warnings came as forces across the North-East and North Yorkshire axe hundreds of staff to cope with losing tens of millions of pounds from their budgets.

Almost 90 staff are going from the Durham force - although no frontline officers - while North Yorkshire will lose 200 officers and 350 support staff. Northumbria has announced that 450 civilian posts will go.

Giving evidence to the home affairs select committee, Paul McKeever, the Federation's chairman, described the looming cuts as a "revolution" in policing that would have "unintended consequences".

Pointing to the impact of police cuts in New York, he warned: "Rapes, murders and robberies are up over the last year or so, so it's something we do have to take notice of."

And, warning that officers with 30 years under their belts would be forced out, Mr McKeever said; "They are the officers with the very high skill sets required for modern police service.

"They tend to be the officers with the experience we rely on when we are going through difficult times - but they are the ones that we are going to be lost first."

Mr McKeever said police numbers would fall below the "dark days of the 1970s", remembering: "People were leaving in large numbers. Nobody wanted to stay because pay and remuneration were so poor."

The Federation had no current plans to organise demonstrations against the cuts, but he told the committee: "We don't rule anything out at all."

And, asked about suggestions that half of police stations would close, Mr McKeever replied: "All bets are off. Selling police stations is one option forces could go down."

Echoing the warning, Labour's home affairs spokesman Ed Balls said: "The police are taking a much bigger hit than other vital public services.

These cuts are a reckless and dangerous gamble."

But the Home Office has told forces to ensure they are "protecting the front line and prioritising visibility and availability of policing".

Across the country, police funding will fall by 20 per cent by 2015 - while £130m is spent on creating elected police commissioners, from 2012.