Office posts cut to fund bobbies

AS MANY as 150 back-office jobs at Essex Police could be axed as the force steps up its plans to radically increase the number of bobbies on the beat, a union has claimed.

Roddy Ashworth

AS MANY as 150 back-office jobs at Essex Police could be axed as the force steps up its plans to radically increase the number of bobbies on the beat, a union has claimed.

Yesterday a force spokesman confirmed that proposals were being put forward to save up to �3million in costs to help meet its Operation APEX commitment for 600 extra frontline police officers by 2013.

In a statement to the EADT yesterday, Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle confirmed that compulsory redundancies were under consideration and that “this may sadly be an outcome for some colleagues”.


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He said: “We do not underestimate the impact that these proposals may have on some of our staff, however we will ensure that decisions are taken as quickly as possible.”

Since the launch of Operation APEX in September 2008, Essex Police has increased its police officer numbers by 239.

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The cash for these frontline roles has been saved following a recruitment freeze in some back office areas, efficiency savings across the force and an increase in partnership working with other organisations.

Last month the EADT revealed that the force was considering restructuring some of its back office functions with the possibility of redundancies among support staff.

And this week it was announced that new proposals to make between �2million and �3million in extra annual savings would be put before the Police Authority at a meeting early next month.

A spokesman for the force said yesterday: “Proposals are being developed to reduce duplication of effort and costs associated with administrative support to the force, which may result in structural changes.

“Some police staff may be affected by the proposals, which could result in some job losses.

“However, the majority of the roles under review do not have direct, phone or face to face contact with the public or victims of crime.

“Essex Police currently has more than 100 police staff vacancies and therefore redeployment opportunities may exist for colleagues who could be displaced.”

Yesterday Barry Faber, Unison branch secretary at Essex Police, said: “The result of the review will be to reduce the number of police staff posts to make savings to enable Essex Police to fund the APEX programme and prepare for the expected central Government cuts to policing budgets in the next couple of years.

“It is anticipated that the shortfall in funding will be in the region of �2.3 million for APEX, to finance the existing commitments, and an additional �1 million for budget cuts.

“The average cost of a member of police staff is in the region of �25,000. In my opinion to fund this shortfall could result in the loss of 130 - 150 posts.”

He told the EADT that the plans could paradoxically end up seeing frontline police spending more time on back office jobs because there were not enough regular staff to do them.

“Whatever happens, the back office work generated by frontline policing is still there to do.

“If this goes ahead, I can see a situation in the future where you have frontline police stuck behind desks doing paperwork that would previously have been dealt with by support office staff,” he said.

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