Norfolk Constabulary is in a “strong position” to maintain low crime rates and frontline police services in the face of budget cuts as a result of sound planning, according to a new report.

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In its report Policing in Austerity: One Year On Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) highlighted the collaboration programme between Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies as “one of the most ambitious and well planned in the country”.

It also noted that the force remains “very focused” on preserving frontline and visible policing despite the financial challenge.

Phil Gormley, chief constable, has welcomed the news which follows its national review of how police forces are progressing to meet the comprehensive spending review imposed in 2010.

He said: “The report from HMIC confirms that careful planning has put Norfolk Constabulary in a very good position, both in meeting the £27 million savings required by Government by 2015 and in continuing to provide the people of Norfolk with a high quality and localised policing service.

“We are now two years into a wide-ranging change programme which has seen increased collaboration with our preferred partner Suffolk Constabulary, the restructuring of frontline services and some work-force reductions. As a result, we are already ahead of schedule in terms of meeting those cost-savings.

“Our communities should be reassured that the service we deliver has remained largely unaffected and we intend to continue to provide a high quality police service which achieves low crime rates and high levels of satisfaction.”

The feedback to the force showed that while police officer numbers will see an overall reduction of 10pc between 2010 and 2015 (from 1,660 to 1,500); the proportion of those officers deployed on frontline duties would increase to 89pc in that time.

Planned reductions in PCSO numbers (from 280 to 260) have been achieved through the natural turn-over of staff, police staff reductions (from 1,120 to 940) are planned through a combination of restructuring of back-office functions and collaboration, with the aim of redeploying those staff affected within the organisation as far as possible.

A review of frontline services implemented in January included a change in shift patterns which means that more police officers and PCSOs are now on duty when they are most likely to be needed.

Stephen Bett, Norfolk Police Authority chairman, said “The authority welcomed HMIC Zoe Billingham’s positive findings in respect of Norfolk Constabulary’ preparedness for budget reductions. This is the third positive report from HMIC on Norfolk in as many weeks.

“The fact is that Phil Gormley and his managers, building on the staff’s ability to deal with business-change on a regular basis, have got to grips with the issues in a very effective manner.

“This report demonstrates that the long-term strategy of the NPA around capital investment in property, IT and other essential equipment, and of becoming more Norfolk-funded, rather than reliant on central government grant, was the right one. That said, the financial challenges continue for the foreseeable future.”

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