Norfolk police to look for help in funding support officers

Norfolk chief constable Simon Bailey, who has announced job cuts in the force. Norfolk chief constable Simon Bailey, who has announced job cuts in the force.

Thursday, June 26, 2014
6:36 AM

Norfolk’s chief constable has indicated he will look to help from the community, including parish councils, to help protect his diminishing front line from further cuts.

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Simon Bailey has announced 350 posts, including 120 police officers and 120 PCSOs, will be axed at Norfolk Constabulary over the next four years as part of a bid to help meet a £20.3m funding gap. This has led to fears from some quarters that the cuts will run too deep and leave Norfolk struggling to maintain its position as one of the safest places in the country.

But while Mr Bailey admits the public will see reductions in PCSO numbers, which are set to almost halve by 2018, he said he will be looking to the wider community, including parish councils, to help part-fund the community officers in future.

He said: “As we progress, we will be looking to take advantage of all viable opportunities that present to maintain our front line numbers.

“Community-led solutions such as part or match-funded PCSOs is certainly an option that I would be very keen to support and, in the coming weeks and months, my district commanders will be speaking to locally elected representatives to explore the appetite for such an initiative.”

Jenny McKibben, deputy police and crime commissioner for Norfolk, said: “These are tough times and, unfortunately, the constabulary faces stark choices. It may be that in the future organisations such as parish councils, for example, might want to consider contributing some of the costs or match-funding for an extra PCSO presence where they feel it necessary.”

We contacted the Norfolk Association of Local Councils, which represents parish councils in the county, but no-one was available for comment. Meanwhile, despite concerns the savings plan will impact on how the county maintains its position as one of the safest in the country, Mr Bailey insists he has tried to protect the front line.

He said: “While the number of overall posts will reduce over the course of the next four years, the number of frontline uniformed police officers available to respond to emergency calls will remain largely unaffected.

“In developing the plans, we have sought to shield and maximise the number of warranted officers retained in local policing and have already reinvested some of the savings to strengthen our response to a growth in crimes affecting the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

Have you got a crime story? Email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk or call 01603 772436.

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