Suffolk police chief: No promises on cuts

A policing chief has told the residents of a north Suffolk town he had no plans to cut their frontline officers – but could not make promises.

Speaking at Southwold Town Council's meeting on Tuesday night Gary Kitching , Assistant Chief Constable at Suffolk Constabulary, said the force was going through its biggest reform in 200 years.

Mr Kitching, who is currently visiting about a dozen parish and town councils to talk in detail about the future of policing in light of major cuts and Government changes, said he hoped Southwold would retain not only its current number of frontline staff, but its police station as well.

He said: 'At the moment i'm not planning to cut the staff here. We will start with managerial levels, then work out how much we've saved after that. If at that point we haven't saved enough money, we'll move down to the next tier.

'The one thing I will say to you is that I can not make promises.

'There are some real threats here, if I am honest. Suffolk County Council has a divestment policy which talks about local services being run by local people and that will put a real stress on us in terms of how we deliver different services.'

Southwold and Halesworth Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) currently consists of one inspector, one sergeant, two officers and four community support officers.

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The small police station in station road opens part-time and covers Southwold as well as nearby Reydon, Wrentham and Wangford.

At a meeting on Monday, Suffolk Police Authority confirmed that the force would shed 300 jobs over the next four years – including 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.

Speaking in Southwold the following day, mr Kitching said: 'there is a real sense that local people need to be encouraged to engage more as part of this 'big society'. What i am happy to report is that Suffolk already has some excellent examples of this from our neighbourhood watch schemes to the local community safety initiative. We also have a lot of volunteers, through special officers and people who just help out at local stations.

'That's a really powerful and positive thing on our side.'