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

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

Thursday, May 29, 2014
8:00 AM

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.

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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.”

How do you think the police should save money? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

17 comments

  • Rhombus and others. So you can do the maths yourself. A police officer, before the recent changes, needed to work 30 years to qualify for a full pension. The earliest retirement age was 49 or 48 if you joined as a cadet. Many did retire at 49 and came back as civilian workers doing the very same job they had previously done as a police officer.

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    BG

    Friday, May 30, 2014

  • norwichAbs you are completely wrong. Retired officers used to live about 7 to 10 years into retirement. My grandfather being one of them. But things have changes and the vast majority of officers are now living into their 80s and I know of some that are in their 90s. So having been able to previously retire around 50 my point is proven. Working conditions are far better now than it was then which unfortunately contributed to many an early death.

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    BG

    Friday, May 30, 2014

  • I wonder how long the average retired Police Chief lives? Does anyone know offhand if there are any ex Police Chiefs out there who have managed to see all the world cups since 1966 whilst enjoying a comfortable retirement pension? (11 world cups or 12 if they hang on long enough to see this years in Brazil).

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    Rhombus

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

  • BG, the two ladies shot in Manchester by Dale Creegan never saw their pension. Sgt Peter Scott, ex Mile Cross and Sprowston, passed away at 55 recently after just 3 months of retirement. The attrition rate for officers due to the stress and shifts far outweighs the odd ex officer who fortunately lives to draw a reasonable pension.

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    NorwichAbs

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

  • Norwich Abs _ I don't foresee a mass exodus from the police. Pc and sergeant on top rate earn basic salaries of £36.5k and £41k respectively and an inspector salaried at £52.8k with very little required in way of academic qualifications. It is still a well paid paid job and the last of those considered as being, “a job for life.” Many maybe grumpy (with just cause about paying so much for their pension) but as many a retired officer now lives as long in retirement as their service in the police force. It's still, by comparison with the private sector, a good deal.

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    BG

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

  • Rhombus, police pay has been cut in real terms for some years. John Major created a two-tier pay structure with the abolition of the housing allowance in 1994. Labour got rid of the plain clothes allowance. The coalition put a pay freeze on and Theresa May wracked up police pension contributions to a whopping 14.25%. Should the economy pick up significantly, which we all hope it does, there could be serious recruitment problems and people leaving in the years ahead.

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    NorwichAbs

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

  • ....."How do you think the police should save money?"....take away the free expensive cars provided for the top Norfolk cops....and their fuel allowances. That would save a few bob.

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    Rhombus

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

  • John Martin The cost of the old NPA was about 1.3million a year so any improvement on that is surely a bonus. Norfolk police used to bump along at about 1330 officers. Then we had a significant programme of civilianisation. Which meant many functions like custody officers, administration, scenes of crime, prosecutions department were in the main civilianised and officers returned to front line duties. Under the last government the number of civilian staff grew to extraordinary numbers aided by the creation of over 200 PCSOs. The number of police officers also grow to over 1600. No one could accuse the Labour government of keeping the police force short of money; but unfortunately like many things in the public sector they failed to ensure the money was being spent efficiently. The police service in general went off at a tangent and became too involved with “social work,” instead of law enforcement. They also came to rely on CCTV too much to do their work for them. Provided there was no legal requirement to carry out a particular function it was ditched under the usual mantra,” It will release more officers for front line policing.” So what we have ended up with is a force with “specialist units,” that are no were near giving value for money and people with a particular responsibility and fewer and fewer all rounded officers capable of dealing with most things. There is no better example of this than to witness the number of officers who turn up to a road accident, each wanting a piece of the action. Resulting in road closures that go on for hours. If Mr Bett applies himself properly to the task in hand, culling some of these squads and jobsworths, stopping police officers patrolling when it is not necessary and getting a grip with self deployment, when a whole host of officers turn up to an incident when one or two will do, we should not notice any difference in policing in Norfolk.

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    BG

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

  • 340.000 of our taxes for a failed attempt at coordinating would now come handy

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

  • Mr Bett's budget challenge is no surprise - he's been talking about it since before he was elected. The trouble is he's ducked big changes needed in how policing and crime reduction is delivered. We need much more than a recruitment freeze to balance the books for a year or so. I think it is only a matter of time before the very sensible idea of regional forces, mooted by Charles Clarke as Labour Home Secretary, comes onto the agenda again; I hope it does.

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    Jack1956

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

  • John Martin is right, Mr. Bett could share the Constabularies PR team. My contribution here was binned this morning, because I queried the failed cooperation excercise with Suffolk which could have saved us 340K, not so small change, Keith S.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

  • John Martin - even if you're right its a drop in the ocean compared to the savings required.

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    KeithS

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

  • Mr Bett has a staff of about fifteen in his office. I should like to ask him three questions. (1) Is he working full-time? (2) Irrespective, can he really justify a full-time deputy? (3) Should he be employing three members of staff in a purely PR role? He could make savings within his own office, and even if those savings merely resulted in two additional police officers out in the streets, they would be worth it.

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    John Martin

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

  • What benefit is there to these new Police and Crime Commissioners who were elected on a turnout that hardly supports their democratic validity and are doing no more than the old, boring, but necessarily so,police committee?

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    Peter Watson

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

  • Mr. Bett could dispense with his personal public relation team and use that of Norfolk constabulary. He could do the job without his deputy, another saving, after all he has a team to support him. He has used 340.000 precious pounds on a failed attempt to merge ego's with Suffolk, an expenditure we can't afford, just as his wages.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

  • Save money on buildings or people? Well common sense says the former, but not in Suffolk.

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    KeithS

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

  • One method would be to cut the wages by 4% a year for the next four years. That would keep the police at full manpower and not increase any so called 'risk levels'.

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    Rhombus

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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