Norfolk 2020 - 101 job losses announced as axe falls on PCSOs

91 PCSOs will leave Norfolk Police on March 31 as part of the Norfolk 2020 restructure. Picture: Ian

91 PCSOs will leave Norfolk Police on March 31 as part of the Norfolk 2020 restructure. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

This week 91 PCSOs and 10 staff will leave Norfolk Police, at an estimated redundancy cost of more than £2m.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Chief Constable Simon Bailey. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

They will be replaced by almost 100 new police officers as the axe has fallen on the role of the PCSO.

Today the force has announced 101 job losses as part of the Norfolk 2020 restructure. Last October Chief Constable Simon Bailey set out plans to save £10m over the next two years, including the removal of PCSOs and closure of seven public enquiry offices.

They will close on March 31, when 150 PCSOs will either leave the force or be redeployed into new roles.

Mr Bailey said the restructure had been 'a significant challenge' for the force and praised the 'outstanding work' and loyalty of his PCSOs.

'This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do,' he said. 'I'm acutely aware the impact it has had on staff members but I genuinely believe these plans will deliver the most responsive police service for the people of Norfolk.'

Of the 59 PCSOs to remain in the force, 30 will become new police officers, almost all returning to the same community.

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'I am delighted with the fact I am able to redeploy so many of my staff put at risk,' said Mr Bailey. 'The amount of money we have to spend to cover those redundancies is going to be a lot less than we thought - more likely to be £2.1m. Our reserves are still okay, albeit we are managing them by investing in various projects.'

The loss of PCSOs has allowed Norfolk Police to recruit 97 new staff, including 81 police officers. A 5.5pc rise in the police precept of council tax will lead to a further 17 police officers and six staff being hired.

'We are committed to investing those additional officers in more beat managers,' added Mr Bailey. 'The vast majority of those officers will end up doing neighbourhood policing work.'

He added they will be increasing capacity to respond to ANPR, with a new initiative called Operation Tutelage to launch shortly, aimed at uninsured drivers.

Seven public enquiry offices - at Dereham, Thetford, Cromer, Downham Market, Fakenham, Hunstanton and North Walsham - will close on Saturday. The front counter services will close but the stations will remain open as operational bases..

Their closure is expected to bring annual savings of £320,000.

Investigation hubs to open

Investment in detective resources and facilities to improve the way in complex crimes are investigated will see two investigation hubs built in Breckland and Broadland.

These will contain equipment and facilities to investigate these crimes more efficiently and effectively, freeing up officers to focus on local policing.

Planning permission is expected to be submitted for the Breckland site in June, and it is due to open late 2019/early 2020 with the Broadland site following shortly after.

Mr Bailey said they will 'become the home for all our detective capability'.

'It will see the establishment of digital forensic units to speed up the processing of digital devices,' he said. 'We will be more efficient and effective and save over £1m a year.'

New operations

Initiatives introduced under the 2020 review plans include Operation Moonshot, which uses intelligence to prevent and deter criminals using the road network.

Over two years, there have been 640 arrests, 648 vehicle seizures and tens of thousands of pounds of fines. The team of one sergeant and eight police officers have returned high value items such as gold, war medals, caravans, and high value stolen motor vehicles.

Another new policing scheme is Operation Solve, aimed at improving and enhancing the methods used to combat retail crime. Noteworthy results from the scheme, in only its second week of operation, include detecting a series of high value alcohol thefts across the county while securing a charge for a woman who was committing a series of fuel thefts at garages. Operation Solve is also using technology to speed-up investigations; in one case a man was arrested in Norwich and charged within 30 hours of the first shoplifting report in King's Lynn.

Mr Bailey added Operation Solve is carried out by 18 officers on restrictive duties doing desk based investigations.

'This isn't ground-breaking technology,' he said. 'But it is making full use of simple tools like email. It is far quicker for retailers to email their CCTV and provide statements over the telephone, than it is for officers to visit the premises, particularly when we might arrive at the wrong moment or need to attend more than once. The early results are encouraging.'

Engagement surgeries

Engagement surgeries will also be held on a regular basis across the county providing opportunities for residents to meet their local officers face to face.

These will be based at police stations in the following locations:

·Hunstanton - Wednesdays - 11am to 1pm

·Downham Market - Thursdays - 11am to 1pm

·Diss - Fridays - 10am to 12pm

·Fakenham - Wednesdays - 1pm to 3pm

·North Walsham - Wednesdays - 1pm to 3pm

·Cromer - Wednesdays - 1pm to 3pm

·Dereham - Wednesdays - 12pm to 2pm

·Thetford - Tuesdays - 12pm to 2pm