One in 11 police officer jobs are set to go over the next three years, in a £7million cost-cutting exercise.
In a report that will be considered by Bedfordshire Police Authority on Friday, Chief Constable Alf Hitchcock recommends reducing the force by 100 police officer posts, and also trimming 56 Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) posts.
Olly Martins, the Labour candidate for the new role of Police And Crime Commissioner which will oversee policing across Bedfordshire, said the plans were “nonsense”.
He said: “Most people looking at these new figures will conclude that’s nonsense. It is absolutely the visible frontline policing people value so much that is going out the window with these cuts.
“Bedfordshire Police has historically been low-cost compared to other forces. Nonetheless it has made £12million of savings since 2010, much of this through collaborative initiatives with the neighbouring forces in Herts and Cambs. There is simply no more fat to trim, hence the alarming reductions in strength now planned.
“Chief constables up and down the country, and HM Inspector of Constabulary, are all saying that if there are still further cuts in the Chancellor’s forthcoming spending review we may no longer have an effective police service.”
The staff cuts are expected to save £7million. Under the government’s comprehensive spending review, Beds Police is required to trim £19million from its budget by 2014/15, and a further £14million is likely to be needed by 2017/18.
Beds Police had already budgeted to reduce its strength from 1,172 to 1,142 officers between April and October 2012.
The cuts will also mean halving the number of PCSOs, from 128 to 72.
Chief Constable Alf Hitchcock’s report says: “Bedfordshire Police has already demonstrated its ability to improve performance with fewer resources; meeting dramatic funding cuts and delivering fundamental structural change.
“The police authority can therefore take assurance that the force will be able to deliver further savings without reversing the substantial performance improvements achieved over the last year-and-a-half.”
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