Update: Reaction as Norfolk police announce 350 jobs to be axed in of government cuts
- Credit: IAN BURT
The head of an organisation that represents rank and file police officers in Norfolk has said the cuts announced today by the chief constable will have a 'significant impact' on policing in the county.
Simon Bailey has today revealed more than 300 jobs are to go - including 120 officers and 120 police community support officers - as he battles to meet £20m of savings demanded by the government.
The chief constable has pledged to do all he can to protect the front line so communities across Norfolk can continue to feel safe.
But while recognising the significant challenge faced by the force, Paul Ridgway, chairman of Norfolk Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said it will have an impact.
He said: 'These figures present the glaring reality of the impact the cuts are going to have on Norfolk Policing. We believe that Police officer numbers and Police staff numbers are already at an uncomfortable level with individual officers' workloads increasing.
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'Norfolk Police officers have stood strong in the face of extreme cutbacks and unparalleled reform. It is testimony to the dedication and professionalism of Norfolk officers and police staff, that we have continued to function the way we have but the ongoing cuts will inevitably see a loss of invaluable skills and experience throughout the Force.
'Norfolk Police Federation warned earlier this year that by not collaborating control rooms, this could only mean a drop in staff. We recognise the efforts of the Chief Constable to attempt to minimise the impact of these cuts on frontline policing in the County and that other options are very limited, but nevertheless this will have a significant impact on Police numbers. Due to changes in types of crimes and incidents reported, which generally need more policing hours to deal with, we believe there is a need for more officers going forward, not less.
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'To date there has not been a decrease on expectation of the service Norfolk Police has committed to deliver and we hope the Constabulary can sustain further cuts to officer and staff numbers without the public seeing an adverse effect to visible Policing in this county.'
Mr Bailey has announced a total of 350 jobs are to go from the 2,932 currently employed by the force part of a savings plan which is to go before Norfolk's police and crime panel (PCP) next month.
The cuts will mean over the next four years:
• The loss of 120 police officer posts from a current strength of 1571
• The loss of 120 PCSO posts from a current strength of 260
• The loss of 110 police staff posts from a current strength of 1101
• A comprehensive two year review of the police estate aimed at closing stations and public inquiry offices which are not used
Since 2009 police officer numbers in Norfolk have fallen from 1,160 to their current level through natural wastage but it will be the first time the number of PCSOs in the county, which in 2007 went from 194 to 282, have been so severely affected.
The job cuts will mean more than £15m of the £20.3m the Norfolk force has to save by 2018 will have been realised with about another £5m still to find.
Mr Bailey has been working on a so-called Plan B since a decision earlier this year not to proceed with plans to merge police control rooms in Norfolk and Suffolk as well as a Shared Services Partnership.
The plans, which had been put forward by Mr Bailey and Suffolk chief constable Douglas Paxton, were scuppered after Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said he could not agree to it.
Mr Bailey said the decision not to go ahead with the merged control room has effectively cost the Norfolk force £800,000 - the equivalent of about 15 police officers - and even if it had gone through would still have meant substantial job cuts were needed to meet the savings.
He said the current savings plan has at its heart four key priorities:
• Protect the frontline and neighbourhood policing
• Maintaining a commitment to the collaboration with Suffolk
• To retain community confidence
• Keep redundancies to a minimum
Mr Bailey said: 'I'm obviously very concerned about what this will mean for staff in the organisation who are my biggest asset. I remain incredibly committed to keeping reductions to a minimum but I recognise there is an inevitability that there will be reductions.
'I will use every opportunity I can to redeploy staff but I think the most important thing is to be honest with my staff and the public – I'm not going to try and paint a picture which doesn't reflect the scale of the challenge.
'I have a £20.3m funding gap and these savings have to be made by 2018. It means our current business model is not sustainable in the long term so I've developed a series of plans, some in conjunction with Suffolk some of which are unique to Norfolk, which include areas I'm having to invest in.'
But despite the challenge being faced by Mr Bailey has vowed to keep the same number of Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) so members of the public will not notice an obvious difference.
He said: 'The public will see no reductions at all in neighbourhood officers and patrol officers.'
Other cost-cutting measures include a review of protective services, including MIT, justice services, Police Investigation Centres (PICS) and the contact and control room at Wymondham.
Mr Bailey has however invested £750,000 in vulnerability teams to address the rise in reports of abuse received since the Jimmy Savile case.