Police Federation warning after Suffolk police officer numbers drop by nearly 10% in 17 months
Suffolk has lost nearly ten per cent of its police force in less than 18 months, sparking a warning that policing could be set back 40 years if the long-term trend continues.
According to constabulary figures there were 1,221 full-time equivalent officers serving the county on April 1, 2014.
By March 31 this year that number had dropped to 1,140, and further retirements and leavers reduced the number to 1,108 by August 31.
The loss has been caused by the drive to save £20.5million by 2020 following the announcement in January of further Government cutbacks in funding.
That figure was re-adjusted from last year when £16.4m needed to be saved by 2018, and it comes as the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners also warns that budget cuts will radically change policing
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Every aspect of the constabulary’s spending has been scrutinised and cuts have been made in all area.
The average cost of a police officer is accepted as £50,000 a year.
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Suffolk Police Federation has warned that to achieve the level of savings required the drop in the number of officers will have to continue.
However, Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore stressed he was confident the cuts so far have not impacted on the safety of the public.
Despite this Mick Richardson, secretary of Suffolk Police Federation, warned further large-scale cuts are expected in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement.
Mr Richardson said: “If the cuts we know are coming in the next round in the autumn are somewhere between 25% and 40% policing in England and Wales will go back to the era of the 1970s and that’s not a good place to be.”
Referring to the loss of 113 officers in Suffolk over the past 17 months Mr Richardson said: “The impact of losing that many police officers over that period of time, with the knowledge that there are further reductions to come over the next couple years or so, is that you simply cannot continue to do everything we have traditionally done.
“Suffolk Constabulary has always prided itself as being there for everyone who wanted us. We have provided what we have always considered to be a Rolls Royce service.
“When the Government announced its intention to make cuts in 2010 the Police Federation in Suffolk said this would lead to a significant reduction in the levels of service.
“Those words are coming true. It is obvious to anybody that we can not maintain such high Rolls Royce levels of service if we don’t have the people to provide it. Something has got to give.
In response to the reductions in manpower Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “It is no secret that we face financial challenges over the next five years and I am working closely with the Temporary Chief Constable (Gareth Wilson) and his team to identify savings of £20.5million to meet this challenge. A recruitment freeze is a part of this savings plan.
“I can completely reassure the public that, despite the budget reductions, we are maximising the level of resources for front line policing.
“I am absolutely confident that this reduction in police officer numbers has not impacted on the safety of the people of Suffolk and can assure you that in an emergency, there will a police officer to help you.”