A DROP in the number of officers on the streets made policing New Year celebrations 'more challenging', according to the boss of a police group.

Rachel Hanley, chairman of the Lancashire branch of the Police Federation, said the loss of police officers added to an already 'considerable amount of strain' on the force during the New Year.

Her remarks come as police were called to deal with more than 1000 incidents in one night as New Year's celebrations went underway in East Lancashire.

Officers in Blackburn, Burnley, Darwen, Hyndburn, Pendle, Ribble Valley and Rossendale made a large number of arrests, broke up brawls and were forced to deal with a high number of domestic altercations.

The night of New Year's Eve ended with the police cells full at Blackburn and Preston custody suite.

And the comments come as the force has seen £76million of cuts from its budget and lost 800 police officers and nearly 500 police staff since 2010.

Ms Hanley, chairman of the body which which represents serving police officers in Lancashire, said: "There are certainly less officers around to deal with incidents this New Year.

"There is already a considerable amount of strain placed on all emergency services including the police and loss of police officers adds to this.

"Lancashire has lost 800 police officers since 2010 due to government austerity measures

"New Year's Eve was a night of high demand for police officers in Lancashire, made more challenging by the reduction of officers on our streets."

The home office said the forces funding will increase by more than £6million next year 'if the police and crime commissioner uses his council precept flexibility', while in March 2017, the force had reserves of £46.7million.

New Year's Eve celebrations saw rubbish and litter scattered around Blackburn town centre while the entrance doors to Blackburn Central Library, situated on Town Hall Street, were found smashed on the morning of New Year's Day.

Police were called out at least 20 times in Colne and West Craven alone.