West Midlands Police to axe 2,500 jobs in effort to find £130m in savings

The department looking at how local policing will work over the next five years ‘against a continued backdrop of financial austerity’

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The Independent Online

West Midlands Police has admitted it will axe 2,500 jobs over the next five years in a bid make savings of £130 million across the force.

Officers, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and civilian staff are set to lose their jobs as part of the new measures that will see the West Midlands Police force reduced to a smaller size than when it was formed in 1974.

The plans have been announced as part of the WMP 2020 change programme, which the force said considers how neighbourhood policing will look in five years’ time "against a continued backdrop of financial austerity".

 

West Midlands Police said that with over 80 per cent of operating costs currently coming from pay budgets, it will be forced to make further workforce reductions despite the number of employees having nearly halved over the last 10 years.

Chief Constable Chris Sims said: “By 2020 WMP will have reduced by almost 45 per cent over a decade.

“I am confident through that policing will continue to protect the public but how services may look and be delivered will have to alter – both to respond to the financial challenges we are facing and to new and growing threats like child sexual exploitation and online crime,” he added.

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Chief Constable Chris Sims of West Midlands Police

Chief Constable Sims insisted that “we are not pulling away from engaging with the public or from having a uniformed presence on the street,” but said there will need to be a “significant reduction” in the number of PCSOs before 2020.

PCSO numbers are expected to reduce faster than those officers and other police staff, according to the plans, in order to limit how far critical areas of policing such as call handling and forensics managed by police staff can be reduced without impacting on safety or investigations, according to the information released by West Midlands Police.

An early phase of the WMP2020 programme is in place and officials will report back in October.

“The WMP2020 Blueprint is about building an effective and affordable force for the year 2020,” Chief Constable Sims said.

“The autumn won’t see a suddenly different force but we will be able to outline to the public and begin testing, our proposed new ways of working.”

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said he supports the “professional and thorough” approach by Chief Constable Sims in the cost-cutting efforts.

“Neighbourhood policing is key to our relationship with communities. However, in the face of growing pressure on our services, the force will have to look and feel different to respond to crime in the future,” he said. 

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