Anxiety as new round of police cuts looms

Police stations are likely to open for shorter hours and more illegal raves will go ahead as a result of cutbacks by Suffolk police.

Police stations are likely to open for shorter hours and more illegal raves will go ahead as a result of cutbacks by Suffolk police.

The force is under government pressure to make savings of at least 1.5pc and up to 2.5pc from its budget. At the same time it is having to find £1m this year and more in the next financial year to pay for the investigation into the murders of five prostitutes in Ipswich.

Today members of Suffolk police authority will make recommend-ations on how the major investigations are to be paid for, what level of savings to make and what council tax increase it should set for next year. The options are for rises of 4.5pc, 5pc or 8pc, with the highest figure appearing to be the frontrunner.

But whatever council tax rate the authority chooses, the force will still have to make efficiency savings. A 1.5pc saving will add up to £1.7m, while a 2.5pc saving comes to £2.6m.

The casualties will be police station opening hours, proactive policing of raves, uniforms for some civilian staff, catering and even car washing. Operation Admiral, where police confiscate the cars of people driving without insurance, will be abandoned in order to save £20,000. And the force will end its £70,000 a year contribution to the Youth Offending Team, a multi-agency body which works with young people to try to stop them becoming involved in crime.

A 2.5pc saving would mean the loss of 15 police constables. The savings will be reinvested into the force to pay for growing operational costs, equipment and training.

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Chief constable Alastair McWhirter said: "We have made efficiency savings year on year for the last five years and there is very little flesh left on the bones."

Gulshan Kayembe, chairman of Suffolk Police Authority, said: "There is general anxiety in the police service about the government's demand for such efficiency savings. We have been doing them for five years. How much longer can we make efficiency savings without it impacting on service?"