Beds Police slammed for ‘dangerous’ plans to cut PCSO numbers

PCSO numbers are to be slashed
PCSO numbers are to be slashed

A trade union has slammed proposals to slash the numbers of bobbies on the beat, branding the plans ‘dangerous’.

Just a fortnight after proposals to close five enquiry desks at police stations across the county were announced, fresh plans to cut the amount of officers have surfaced.

Beds Police has entered formal consultation with its staff over the move– which would see the numbersof PCSOs reduced from 108 to 46 and investigation officers cut from 44 to 10.

Police and crime commissioner Olly Martins has said that the proposal will help the force find the £17.5 million in savings it needs over the next four years.

However UNISON has claimed that the cutback threatens public safety.

Branch secretary Sarah Crowe said: “UNISON is concerned that the proposals will lead to a much reduced service and a loss of public confidence in the police.

“This unprecedented plan to drastically reduce police staff numbers in vital front line roles is a direct result of cuts in funding imposed by the government.

“UNISON believes the reductions in police staff will result in less police officers being available to help the public because they will be carrying out the work of police staff who have been made redundant.”

Ms Crowe added: “People living and working in Bedfordshire have not been given the opportunity to voice their opinions on these major changes to the way police services will be provided in the future.

“UNISON believes they should be consulted before any changes are made to front line policing.”

According to Beds Police almost half of its job-threatended PCSOs have expressed an interest in becoming regular officers, while a ‘small number’ of investigation officers have said the same.

PCC Olly Martins continues to appeal to the Home Office for extra funding, but has been hampered by the government’s reducing police budget.

He said: “The government is currently reviewing its police funding formula, which may finally see Bedfordshire receiving a fairer share of the national grant cake.

“With a 25-40% cut to the overall amount spent by government on policing expected in the Chancellor’s spending review in November...essentially we are likely to receive a larger slice of a reducing cake.

“Unfortunately, until we know one way or the other what the Home Office is going to do, we have to proceed on the basis of the budget we have, including the need to find £17.5 million of savings over the next four years.”

He added: “I very much hope the loss of these experienced and committed PCSOs and investigating officers can be avoided.“