Police force to cut almost 3,000 jobs

Click to follow
Indy Politics

One of Britain's largest police forces will shrink by almost a quarter as it sheds nearly 3,000 posts over the next four years.

Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Peter Fahy said 750 civilian employees and 309 officers will go by 2012 with more to follow.

The senior officer added that by the financial year 2014-2015 there will be a 23% reduction in employee numbers.

The job losses will form part of a huge programme of reform aimed at saving £134 million in the wake of the Government's spending review.

Mr Fahy said the force is also likely to use a controversial regulation that can make officers retire after 30 years' service.

In a report to the Police Authority, Mr Fahy said the impact of the spending review will be "significant" and officer recruitment has been frozen.

He admitted service levels "could deteriorate", but said work is under way to protect the frontline by cutting back office costs and bureaucracy.

Mr Fahy said: "The force will be required to improve service levels with significantly less resources.

"It is therefore imperative that there is one coherent plan which links the policing priorities with the financial situation.

He added: "The force is committed to the continued development of neighbourhood policing, the protection of vulnerable people and the benefits which arise through aggressively tackling serious and organised crime.

"What is clear is that over the four year period there will be a reduction in the size of the force.

"This is currently estimated at around 2,950 posts. Although there will be a significant reduction in the size of the middle and back offices, it is clear that over the four year period there will also need to be a reduction in frontline police officer numbers."

Representatives of the police rank-and-file have warned up to 40,000 police officers could be axed as a result of the spending squeeze.

They said specialist units, such as those who target child abusers and wife beaters, could be hit hardest.

Chief constables have pledged to save as much cash through efficiencies and reform as possible, with the vocal encouragement of the coalition Government.

But many have warned it is impossible to protect all jobs in a sector where the wage bill can form more than 80% of budgets.

Greater Manchester Police has lost 221 officers since last December and warned cuts could threaten its ability to police football games and party conferences.

Hampshire Constabulary has announced it will axe 1,400 posts, including hundreds of police officers, as it cuts about a fifth of its workforce to save £70 million.

West Midlands Police could lose up to 1,000 officers, a tenth of its workforce, as it makes cuts of £140 million.

Lancashire has predicted the loss of 600 officer posts in the next four years, with the closure of a custody suite and the loss of six sergeants.

Merseyside will lose about 200 police officers each year through natural wastage, affecting public order, domestic violence, dogs and road policing units.

Police Federation predications have shown Kent could lose 500 officers, North Wales 251, and Devon and Cornwall 180 over the next four years.

Shadow home secretary Ed Balls said: "Job losses of this scale go beyond what both the Police Federation and KPMG have so far estimated the spending review will mean for police officer numbers.

"People are rightly concerned that cuts of this scale and speed will undermine the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour and take reckless risks with the safety of our communities," he said.

Mr Balls said the force was being put in an "impossible position" by the Government and every police force in the country was now "having to work out the implications of the deep and immediate cuts the Home Secretary has demanded".

"But by front-loading the cuts in the first two years, the Tory-Lib Dem Government is making it even more difficult for forces to protect the frontline by finding long-term efficiency savings," he said.