Plan to cut 300 Suffolk police jobs approved

Major cutbacks which would see Suffolk police shed 300 jobs over the next four years were approved today.

However, Suffolk Police Authority members also voted not to increase the precept the force will get from its share of the council tax for 2011/12.

Instead, the force will receive a government grant of around �1m, which was offered as an incentive to keep the precept the same as this year.

Next year's budget of �115.4m will herald major cost-savings. These include losing 100 police officer posts and 200 civilian posts by 2015.

The losses in personnel equate to savings of �11.5m out of the �13.5m cuts the force must make over the four years.

Chief Constable Simon Ash told today's police authority meeting: 'Sustaining the financial stability in the medium and long term is going to be crucial for the force.

'The challenge is we are going to have to deliver consistently high standards of service with considerably less cash. We are under no illusions about the challenge the Home Secretary has set us in that regard.'

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Around �10m of the savings required must be made in the next two years, the authority was told.

Mr Ash added: 'The cuts are unprecedented.

'They are going to be a big challenge to deliver. The savings required are a significant reduction in head count. It's broadly about 300 people in the next four years.

'The speed of that delivery is going to be absolutely crucial in making the finances balance over the next four years.'

Last night Matt Gould, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said it was disappointed that a decision was not made to raise the precept.

He added: 'We are keen to maintain levels of service for the people of Suffolk. We are entering an era of increasing demand on services and we probably need more people to meet that demand as opposed to less.'

Mr Gould said that with more civil unrest and higher rates of unemployment the federation is anticipating higher crime levels.

'We do have to concentrate our resources in the areas of greatest demand. It may be that some of the rural areas will suffer consequently,' he added. 'But it is in everybody's interests to do the very best for the people of Suffolk.'

Last week Norfolk Police Authority members agreed to raid financial reserves to help delay a reduction in the number of frontline officers.

The force had been preparing to reduce the number of officers it employs by 350 as well as cutting 60 PCSOs and 230 civilians.

But at a budget setting meeting police authority members heard that by using funds set aside from previous years, it may be possible to reduce the impact.