Police Force Announces Cut In Officer Numbers

Suffolk Police have announced plans to redesign the force in a bid to save £16.4 million by 2018.

The proposals include reducing the number of officers by up to 83 over the next two years, and working more closely with Norfolk Police.

Following the second phase of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR2), Suffolk Constabulary is faced with achieving savings and efficiencies of 13.2% over four years.

Almost £10 million of the savings required have been identified, which will be achieved over the next two years. This will leave a deficit of just over £6.7million to be found between 2016 and 2018.

Savings will be achieved through continued collaboration with partners and Norfolk Constabulary and through a programme of change focussed purely on Suffolk.  This will involve reductions in the establishment and extensive work to increase efficiency by harnessing new technology, strengthening partnerships and undergoing a radical service re-design so that the Constabulary can continue to keep people safe.

A range of initiatives are now being explored to provide policing services with less money, whilst finding ways of transforming the organisation to meet the policing challenges ahead.

The Constabulary’s savings plan will be discussed in detail at the meeting of the Police and Crime Panel on Friday 10 October.

Work to bridge the funding gap is now divided into two areas:

  • the Norfolk and Suffolk Change Programme, which involves extensive police collaboration with Norfolk Constabulary and the Eastern Region.
  • the Suffolk Only Change Portfolio, which will involve the implementation of a range of initiatives through three projects.

These three projects are:

·         Targeted Change Options

·         Suffolk Local Policing Review

·         Suffolk Partnership Change

Reviews into collaborative areas with Norfolk Constabulary such as Protective Services and Justice Services are expected to realise £3.4m over the four year period. The ‘Suffolk Only’ change portfolio will achieve £12.9m.

A significant part of the work in Suffolk will focus on our local policing response, which will identify how policing resources can be re-designed across the county to be the most efficient, whilst realising savings, reducing the workforce and managing demand better. 

A range of other projects will also be developed, including further wide-ranging collaboration with local partners and the creation of initiatives that will focus on demand reduction and early intervention.

The projects will achieve our savings requirements in two phases.

  • Phase 1 covers the period to 31/3/16, and will deliver savings through measures including a reduction in police officer and staff posts.
  • Phase 2 covers the period from 1/4/16 to 31/3/18 and will deliver savings through radical service re-design, cost saving efficiencies and collaborative opportunities with our partners. There will also be further officer and staff reductions, but the success of other projects will affect the level of reductions required.

Suffolk Constabulary is one of the lowest cost forces in England and Wales spending 87% of its budget on people and the remaining 13% on non-pay cost.  It is therefore inevitable that the organisation will need to become smaller to make the savings required.

The Chief Constable has confirmed that police officer and staff posts will be reduced. Initial projections suggest as part of phase one, the number of police officer posts will reduce by up to 83 over the next two years, and PCSOs will reduce by three.  These reductions will be achieved through the natural turnover of staff and re-alignment of posts, and will come from both local and collaborative areas.

A minimum of 38 staff posts will be removed from the Constabulary over the next two years.  The Constabulary has a strong track record in minimising compulsory redundancies whilst achieving savings. Where individuals are placed at risk, every effort will be made to re-deploy them elsewhere within the organisation.

Chief Constable Douglas Paxton said: "There is no doubt that this is a challenging time for policing nationally.  Locally we are ready to take on this challenge and make significant changes to ensure our communities continue to receive the policing services they need.

"This will be a time for us to review the entire Constabulary and take the opportunity to do things differently.  We are working from a good position, as a strong police force with a history of performing extremely well, but we are already a low cost force, providing good value for money for our communities.

"Our change programme will result in a significant re-modelling of our organisation, its staffing levels and the way in which we conduct our business, so our latest plans necessarily have to involve reductions in officer and staff numbers.

"Working with our partners will be crucial as these plans progress.  Our collaboration with Norfolk Police has been hugely successful and we remain committed to this partnership.  We will now be looking for further collaborative opportunities within Suffolk, to find ways of sharing expertise and resources to keep our communities safe.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: "Police forces across the country are having to make difficult decisions as they endeavour to deliver an efficient and effective police service with less funding, Suffolk is no different.

"The Chief Constable has presented a range of options to plug the funding gap and I am reassured that we will be able to meet this financial challenge and continue to keep the county safe, but one thing is clear – Suffolk Constabulary will have to change. There will be fewer staff and fewer police officers in Suffolk; we just can’t afford to keep officer numbers at the current level.

"The reduction in police officer numbers will be met though natural turnover combined with the on-going recruitment freeze. Although there will be fewer officers overall, local policing will continue to be built on the foundations of safer neighbourhood policing, which is the cornerstone of how we do business.

"I am confident we can create efficiencies. We have made a good start on pooling public sector resources in Suffolk, especially in our estate. There is considerable scope to expand this work and in other areas such as public access, community safety and blue light integration."

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