'16,000 police face axe due to cash cuts'.
The report by Cardiff's Universities Police Science Institute states the government grant for local policing will fall by pounds 1.36 billion, or 14%, over the next four years.
Its author Dr Timothy Brain, the former chief constable of Gloucestershire, challenged claims by ministers that the cuts can be largely absorbed by "back office" efficiency savings with little impact on frontline services.
He expressed concern over whether police forces will be able to effectively tackle future disturbances on the scale of last week's riots in England.
Dr Brain predicts a total of 16,000 frontline posts could be lost - which is around the same number of officers called in to deal with the unrest in London last week.
He said: "Ministers expect the brunt of such losses to fall in the so-called back office, but with as many as 16,000 police officer posts going, there is little prospect of the frontline being unaffected.
"Coincidentally, 16,000 officers were needed to restore order to the streets of London last week."
Dr Brain went on: "The growth in police officer numbers since 2004/05 has been principally to enable neighbourhood, or community, policing.
"It is likely it will be in neighbourhood policing where the greatest impact will be felt. Police services and officers' morale are both likely to suffer.''