Suffolk: Losing 80 police officers means the public must accept a reduced service, warns Suffolk Police Federation
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Suffolk Police Federation today warned the loss of up to 7% of the county’s officers over the next two years will mean a reduced service to the public.
The federation said the shedding of more than 80 officers from its present strength of 1,207 will force a sea-change in the constabulary’s ability to respond to reports of crime.
It believes the first phase of cuts to achieve budget savings of £16.4 million by 2018 would result in police only being able to respond immediately to incidents which represent danger, or the risk of danger to the public.
Federation secretary Sergeant Mick Richardson said: “Our worry is you are going to have a significantly fewer number of officers available to do the same amount of work.
“You are going to have to reduce the amount of work the force is expected to take on. Your have going to have to reduce the demand being placed upon the organisation in order not to overstretch the organisation’s ability to respond.
“People are going to have to get used to the fact we are not going to be turning out to their address because it (the incident) doesn’t represent the threat of risk or harm.
“I would suggest the announcement today is a wake-up call to the communities within Suffolk that the police service can not operate at the same levels of service it has traditionally operated under despite previously managing to deal with the budget cuts over the years.
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“These are budget cuts that will result in a totally different level of service outside of the current work we do.
“The public will have to get used to a different level of expectation of what we do, how we do it, how quickly we can do it, and whether or not we can do it at all.”
Suffolk’s Chief Constable Douglas Paxton has said along with up to 83 police officer posts, three police community support officers will also be lost by 2016. At least 38 civilian staff also face the axe.
Mr Paxton said: “There is no doubt that this is a challenging time for policing nationally. Locally we are ready to take on this challenge and make significant changes to ensure our communities continue to receive the policing services they need.
“This will be a time for us to review the entire constabulary and take the opportunity to do things differently. We are working from a good position, as a strong police force with a history of performing extremely well, but we are already a low cost force, providing good value for money for our communities.
“Our change programme will result in a significant re-modelling of our organisation, its staffing levels and the way in which we conduct our business, so our latest plans necessarily have to involve reductions in officer and staff numbers.
“Working with our partners will be crucial as these plans progress. Our collaboration with Norfolk Police has been hugely successful and we remain committed to this partnership. We will now be looking for further collaborative opportunities within Suffolk, to find ways of sharing expertise and resources to keep our communities safe.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “Police forces across the country are having to make difficult decisions as they endeavour to deliver an efficient and effective police service with less funding, Suffolk is no different.
“The Chief Constable has presented a range of options to plug the funding gap and I am reassured that we will be able to meet this financial challenge and continue to keep the county safe, but one thing is clear – Suffolk Constabulary will have to change. There will be fewer staff and fewer police officers in Suffolk; we just can’t afford to keep officer numbers at the current level.”