Gloucestershire police to restructure

Gloucestershire police say they are going to save £8.5 million by restructuring the force.

The plans could see more officers based in shops and community buildings, rather than police stations, but we are assured it will also mean more front line officers.

Chief Constable Tony Melville said the aim of the restructure is to continue to keep people safe from harm and to increase the confidence of our local communities in us, their local police:

Police1“We have a long and proud history of policing in Gloucestershire, and now have the lowest crime levels we have experienced in the county for 20 years.

“However, in 2010 we need to be increasingly visible and connected to our communities, able to respond even more quickly to their needs, but also positioned to address the serious, often unseen, harms our communities face.

“The new structure is intended to ensure that we are more efficient and effective, that we are able to engage with and protect our communities, bring offenders to justice and provide even better value for money.

“Our existing structure has served us very well over the years, but the time is right to review the way we deliver policing across the county and I am confident the outline we now have in place is the starting point for improvements for our communities and partners, as well as our own officers and staff.

“The current operational structure has a relatively small percentage of officers and staff engaged in neighbourhood policing and the greatest percentage in our response capability.  The new structure changes this.

“We are now able to make these changes as we have made significant adaptations to the way we manage the demands made of us. Better methods of incident management mean we can boost our community based policing teams, who can spend time out of their vehicles working with communities and partners confronting offenders and problems.”

The new structure will see the introduction of:

· 6 Local Policing Areas: Cheltenham, Tewkesbury, Gloucester, Forest, Cotswolds and Stroud.  Each led by a Superintendent.

· 9 Safer Community Teams: 2 each in Cheltenham, Gloucester and Stroud and 1 in Tewkesbury, the Forest and the Cotswolds.  All SCTs will be led by Inspectors.

· Force command structures known as: Finance; Local Policing; Community Contact; Business Transformation; Protective Services; and People.

Questions and answers:

Q: How is the force currently structured?
The Constabulary is currently divided into three policing divisions – Cheltenham & Tewkesbury, Cotswold & Stroud, and Forest & Gloucester – each lead by a Chief Superintendent.
Each division has five or six Inspector Neighbourhood Areas (INAs), with officers responding to emergency calls and incidents, as well as divisional CID units and other functions.
There are then at least one Safer Community Team within each INA, dealing with community issues and providing a visible policing presence.
Supporting those divisions are central departments such as Operational Services (includes roads policing, firearms and dog section), Specialist Criminal Investigation Services (includes major crime, forensics and intelligence), Finance, Human Resources and the Criminal Justice Department (includes custody, crime casework and central ticket office).

Q: How much money will be saved through implementing the new structure?
Around £8.5m of savings need to be realised over the next three years, this takes us significantly towards that objective.

Q: How many officer and staff posts will the force lose as a result of the restructure?
The more relevant question is how many more police officers and staff will be on the front line delivering policing. The answer to that question is - slightly less than 90% of our police officers will be deployed on front line duties overall. This is a significant increase in numbers deployed into the communities of Gloucestershire. There may be a reduction in police officer and staff posts, however the aim is to avoid any redundancies for police staff (police officers cannot be made redundant) and leave vacancies where possible.

Q: How will this impact on the police estate, i.e. will any police stations be closed because of the restructure or will new buildings be needed?
We do need to adapt our estate. It might be that we use a different type of estate such as opening shop fronts which are manned at the times the public want to use them, or that we use joint facilities with local or county councils. What ever we do we will keep our purpose in mind, which is to have an estate that will enable us to reduce harm and build confidence within our communities.

Q: How can we be sure the service to the public will be better, not worse?
We will be delivering more officers onto the front line, and these will have more time to address community concerns and issues. When we ran focus groups to help us understand the style of policing that the communities of Gloucestershire wanted, the message was clear: an ability to speak and meet with the police and to see a visible presence. So we are doing all that we can to position our officers into the communities that need them, and still retain sufficient specialist ability to investigate serious crimes and criminals. But, in any change programme there is always risk and we will be monitoring and watching all our changes and will assess their effectiveness. This will mean we can stop doing what doesn’t work and do more of the successful things.

Q: How will this affect links with partnership groups?
We are continually seeking ways to improve our partnership working. We see the changes we propose as a fantastic opportunity to improve our already good relationships and hope that our partners do as well. We have started talking with our partners and we hope that these changes will bring us closer together, that’s why we have configured our new structure to exactly overlay the six district council areas.

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