More than 400 jobs could go as Northumbria Police revealed last night that it must save an additional £46million by March 2017.
But the force claims that neighbourhood policing is being protected ‘with a series of far-reaching changes to guarantee the numbers of police officers and police staff on the beat’.
Despite further Government cuts to funding, efforts have been made to safeguard the services the public say they value most – visible policing in their communities. This will be achieved without the need for any increase in the council tax for policing.
But police staff posts need to be reduced by around 230 by April 2017 and restructuring will lead to a reduction of approximately 200 senior management and supervisory police officer roles.
Police & Crime Commissioner Vera Baird said: “The Government cuts are relentless and unfair. They impact far more heavily on our police service than on many others. The Chief Constable and I are very committed to maintaining the number of police officers and staff working in our neighbourhoods.
“To achieve this we need to do things differently, use technology more effectively and work from different buildings that are cheaper to run. We will relocate neighbourhood policing teams to bases in the local community, usually shared with other services.
“We are keen to make further savings by relocating other neighbourhood policing teams into the communities that they serve, as this is what local policing is all about. However, we guarantee that no police services will be relocated until we have found accessible bases within the community for neighbourhood teams to work from and they are working well.
“I am conscious that local people are feeling the effects of the economic downturn very acutely in our region. We have managed to protect frontline numbers and deliver the savings needed without the public having to pay more.”
The force has already delivered £58million of savings since the start of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010.
All aspects of police services have been scrutinised to make as many non-staff savings as possible. The force faced difficult decisions in order to achieve the level of cuts required – either reduce the numbers of frontline officers and staff or change operational structures and reduce running costs.
The proposed changes will not reduce the service to the public nor impact on the force’s ability to reduce crime and disorder, it is claimed.
Chief Constable Sue Sim said: “Neighbourhood policing will remain the cornerstone of how we deliver service and I remain committed to protecting, as far as possible, the officers and staff who are visible in our communities. This includes 24/7 response and neighbourhood policing teams, including CSO Patrol and the detectives who work in our neighbourhoods.
“In order to make further savings, we propose to introduce a new structure by streamlining our area commands from six to three and reducing the number of buildings we work from.
“We will need to reduce police staff posts by approximately 230 across a range of areas by April 2017, but have already identified 80 vacancies and hope to achieve as many as possible through natural turnover.
“The new structure will also allow us to reduce approximately 200 senior management and supervisory police officer roles, again through natural turnover. We will continue to recruit police constables to fill frontline vacancies as they arise.
“Northumbria has an excellent record in reducing crime and disorder and keeping our communities safe and those high standards will continue.”