Norfolk PCSO recruitment freeze at the heart of ‘plan B’ budget saving strategy

PUBLISHED: 08:00 29 May 2014 | UPDATED: 10:02 29 May 2014

Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Bett. Picture: Ian Burt

Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Bett. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2013

A freeze on recruiting new PCSOs will be at the centre of Norfolk police’s ‘plan B’ to save £20 million over the next four years.

Norfolk and Suffolk’s police forces have been scrambling to find alternative ways of saving money after Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner last month scuppered ‘plan A’, to merge two forces’ control rooms.

The proposal to relocate Suffolk’s control room to Wymondham was expected to save £1.8 million a year, but Tim Passmore said he was “extremely concerned about the level of risk”.

His Norfolk counterpart Stephen Bett, who supported the control room merger plans, warned at the time that any alternative he came up with would “cause a lot of angst for the public”, but vowed to protect frontline policing as much as possible.

Now, he has given a preview of what will be included in his ‘plan B’, which he will present to Norfolk’s police and crime panel on July 4.

He said: “I said that if the back office mergers did not go ahead, it could cause us a great deal of problems, and it would mean we would have to find the equivalent of 120 officers and PCSOs together.

“Obviously, we will attempt to save the frontline and I’m pretty reassured we can probably save it as it is for one or two years.”

However, he said that because 83pc of the budget paid for people, there would be casualties.

“What we will try to do is to do it by freezing recruitment of PCSOs, and gradually work the numbers down,” he added.

He said the freeze on PCSO recruitment was already in place, although the force would continue to recruit police officers “as long as we can”.

He said he had already consulted Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary about his ideas, and told them the risk levels as he saw them.

However, he said he had not yet talked to staff representatives.

Asked how he would prevent a fall in numbers from damaging the force’s work, he said: “I’m looking to ensure that other public bodies work very much closer with the police, so the police resources are not wasted elsewhere. That is something that is a very high priority.”

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