Public safety will be put at risk by cost-cutting measures which could leave Sutton without dedicated parks police for up to six months, councillors have claimed.

Fears about the policing of parks come at the same time as it is revealed up to 12 other officers will be taken off the streets to fill desk jobs.

The parks police, who were launched in 1998 and consisted of one manager and eight officers, were disbanded at the end of March.

But police bosses have confirmed new safer parks teams due to take over policing the borough's open spaces may not be ready for six months.

The changes, which were introduced by Sutton Council as part of £5.2million budget savings, are likely to leave Sutton with no dedicated parks police for most of the summer - typically the force's busiest period.

Despite concerns, police say residents have no reason to fear as extra funding to Safer Neighbourhood Teams means they will be covered.

Conservative councillor Barry Russell said: "I have pointed out to them time and time again that it's insanity.

"They are making a great saving but it's a bankrupt idea in my opinion. By removing an excellent service dedicated to policing the parks and having no replacement in place, public safety has to be compromised."

The old parks police were axed as part of savings to the council - who fund the service - of £132,000.

They are to be replaced with two safer parks teams each made up of one sergeant, two PCs and three police community support officers.

A spokesman for Sutton Police said it would take between two and six months to complete the training of the new teams.

"While they are completing their training, the Safer Neighbourhood Teams have been given extra funding by the Safer Sutton Partnership Service to ensure that they deal with park-related issues until the new teams are in place," he said.

In addition to scrapping the parks police, MP Paul Burstow said between 10 and 12 officers will be taken off the street because of Government cuts to Sutton police's budget.

Mr Burstow said Borough Commander Bob Reed told him 17 civilian staff at Sutton police station had been redeployed and many of these posts will be filled by officers currently patrolling the streets.

Mr Burstow said: "It makes no sense for the police to be forced to be stuck behind desks doing office work. It is a waste of tax payers' money.

"Because of this error by those making the decisions, there will be 12 less officers out on our street, protecting the public and keeping crime down."

Chief Superintendent Reed said he had to restructure the service to achieve greater levels of operational efficiency and provide improved customer service. He added that their budget has not been cut, but substantially increased in line with the Safer Neighbourhoods programme.

"The reorganisation and redeployment of civilian staff in Sutton borough has been conducted to ensure a proportionate balance of skills to support front line officers," he said.

"This has necessitated redeploying some staff to utilise the skills of police officers in posts that directly support patrolling officers on the street."