One in eight police officers to be cut

PUBLISHED: 11:00 07 July 2012

Archant

NEARLY one in eight police officers faces the axe as Avon and Somerset Constabulary prepares to make unprecedented savings of £42million.

A report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) revealed the total number of officers, PCSOs and staff working across the force’s area, which includes North Somerset, will be reduced by around 600.

That figure includes 400 police officer posts - amounting to a 12 per cent reduction - plus 40 PCSOs and a further 160 police staff.

All this must be done by 2015, according to the HMIC report. However, it does go on to say that a reorganisation of resources will take place to help protect the force’s frontline operations.

This will involve increasing the percentage of the workforce employed on the frontline, from 86 per cent now, to 93 per cent at the end of the reshuffle.

A police spokesman said: “Our approach has focused primarily on our back office functions and departments, thereby restricting the impact that our plans have on the number of frontline officers.

“We will continue with this approach, and hope that we can continue the success we have had over the past two years in both managing the financial pressures, at the same time as maintaining, and improving our performance.”

The HMIC assessment says Avon and Somerset has already made significant inroads into reshaping its services, but says crime rates have dropped during that time - while public satisfaction with police performance remains above the national average.

It adds: “The constabulary plans aim to protect the frontline as far as possible.

“Its intention is to continue to deliver the same or better levels of service on the frontline by investing in modern technology and changing the way it works.”

A Freedom Of Information Act request submitted by the Mercury revealed there had been a reduction of 107 officers in the financial year 2011-12, saving £4,922,000. Almost a quarter of the cuts, 24, came from the force’s roads policing unit.

Five officers were from North Somerset and 17 from Somerset East and Somerset West combined.

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