Union claims Essex Police could have made cuts through natural wastage

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

Union bodies described the announcement that cuts are being made to frontline services at Essex Police as “sad” – and warned more cuts could be yet to come.

Chairman of the Police Federation Mark Smith.

Chairman of the Police Federation Mark Smith. - Credit: Su Anderson

John Watts, secretary of the Essex Police Unison branch, which represents PCSOs and police staff, said: “It is a very sad day for Essex Police.

“PCSOs at the moment are the frontline as far as the public are concerned.

“We know in times of austerity public sector jobs are at risk and we knew there would be a reduction. But if all the savings didn’t have to be made by April this could have been done by natural wastage.

“Essex Police will still be recruiting officers, and PCSOs are half-trained, but we will lose those skills as they are forced to look for other jobs.”

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Mark Smith, chairman of the Essex branch of the Police Federation, added: “I’m not surprised because we have been saying cuts have consequences, and they are far-reaching.

“If going down to 10 police stations means keeping more officers on the frontline I welcome it.

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“I feel very sorry for PCSOs and support staff, and their sacrifice is to save money to keep officers.

“If the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review comes back with more cuts all of this could be looked at again, it would be a brand new ball game.”

Mr Smith added that moving officers out of neighbourhood policing teams would lead to a loss of local knowledge and intelligence.

Witham MP Priti Patel, who has Witham and Feering police stations closing in her constituency, said: “Essex Police needs to ensure its resources are focused on frontline policing as officers solve crimes not buildings.

“Police and local authorities need to work together to ensure sites being disposed of are put to good use.

“It is right police make themselves more accessible through modern communications.”

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