Cuts to personnel and police stations in Essex announced by Stephen Kavanagh and Nick Alston

Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, and Stephen Kavanagh, Chief Constable of Essex

Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, and Stephen Kavanagh, Chief Constable of Essex Police, announced plans for the Essex Police property estate. - Credit: Su Anderson

Up to 15 police stations in Essex could be axed as the county’s force admits its property estate is “haemorrhaging money”.

It is just one of several major changes the organisation will be making in order to save money over the next five years, which also include cuts to front line and back room policing staff.

Chief constable Stephen Kavanagh and police and crime commissioner Nick Alston made the announcements at a briefing today.

In a statement released earlier the force said it had to change “in the face of unprecedented challenges.”

Cuts of around £63million are anticipated by 2019-20.

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The statement said the 80 buildings owned by Essex Police, including those at its headquarters site in Springfield, required £30m worth of maintenance work to bring them up to standard and £2m a year to keep them in their current condition.

It said the headquarters site was “made up of numerous buildings some of which are around 100 years old, sprawling across 20 acres of land” which made it “highly inefficient, costing £2.5 million more each year than is necessary”.

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Plans are therefore afoot to reduce the number of police owned buildings to 30, cutting the number of police stations with front counters from 25 to 10 by April next year and to sell the Springfield site.

Front counters, open to the public from 9am to 5pm, will be kept in Grays, Basildon, Southend, Harlow, Chelmsford, Maldon, Saffron Walden, Braintree, Colchester and Clacton.

Operational policing bases without front counters will be kept in Loughton, Brentwood, Canvey Island, Rayleigh and Harwich.

Staffing cuts are also part of the cost-saving measures, with consultation with Unison over proposals to reduce Contact Customer Administrator posts from 98 to 36 already taking place.

It is also proposed to reduce the number of PCSO posts in Essex from 250 to 60, with Unison again being consulted.

Ten community policing teams will be created, one in each district policing area and based in community safety hubs, in an effort to maintain connections with local communities. They will be led by an inspector and sergeant.

Mr Kavanagh said: “No leader likes to announce that valued staff may be leaving their organisation. The work our front counter staff and PCSOs do is held in high regard by communities across the county and for good reason.

“But my job is to put the resources available to me in the best place to protect people from harm.

“I am clear that the best way to do that in Essex today is to put greater emphasis on harm and vulnerability and with that comes a changed emphasis on different victims, different offenders and different crimes.”

Mr Alston said: “Some of these changes are necessary and long overdue. Some are difficult and painful – especially as there are likely to be many fewer PCSOs and police staff serving their communities.

“I encourage everyone to join this autumn’s engagement programme to raise local issues with Essex Police and help find potential solutions.

“In the face of hard choices, the chief constable and I are determined that Essex Police will continue to do all it can to keep our county safe both now and for the future.”

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