254 police officers to go on Merseyside

Force makes changes to cut £61.5m over the next four years.

As police forces across Britiain deal with budget cuts, today (Fri) Merseyside Police Authority say they're making a number of changes to meat their target of £61.5m cut over four years.

The Key Points:
- Changes equate to 254 officers and 18 staff being cut
- The number of General Enquiry Offices will be cut from 34 to 12.
- 38 MORE police officers on the street
- 20 MORE detectives across the force.

Here is the statement from Merseyside Police:
Deputy Chief Constable of Merseyside Police Bernard Lawson said:  "Throughout the process of identifying savings we have done everything in our power to protect front line policing and we remain totally committed to providing an excellent policing service to the communities of Merseyside.  Wherever possible we have continued to make changes to our back office functions to ensure that officers can be returned to front line policing roles. However, with the scale of the cuts it is inevitable that there will be an impact on the service that we are able to provide. The reduction in officers across the force will occur through natural wastage over the next three years.

"In all the changes we have made we have focused on what the public tell us is important. We will maintain a visible policing presence, answer your phone calls within our target time and attend, both emergency and non-emergency calls, within our agreed target time. We will also carry out thorough and professional investigations into crimes that are committed. For this reason, the number of detectives within area CID offices will increase by 20 officers.

"I must emphasise that no police stations will close but as part of the cost saving proposals the MPA has agreed a number of changes to General Enquiry Office (GEO) opening times across the force area. The number of GEOs across the force will reduce from 34 to 12. I would reassure our communities that all residents will have access to a 24 hour police station within their local area and another GEO that is open from 8am until 10pm. This represents a reduction of only one 24-hour GEO across the force. In a recent audit of GEOs many of them had less than 10 visitors per day and so the officers in these roles will be moved to roles where demand for their services is greater. Members of the community will continue to be able to access the police in a variety of ways including face to face, over the phone, community meetings, online and calling into a police station or access point.  

"As part of our review we have looked carefully at those areas of high demand so that we can match our resources appropriately and meet the demand effectively. We believe strongly in our neighbourhood policing model and that will not change although some areas may see some changes in the make up of their neighbourhood teams.

"As part of the changes we have also centralised a number of different functions including intelligence functions and the sex offender management units. The centralisation of these units will allow greater resilience across the force, encourage best practice and cut out duplication of work. There will be a small reduction in Matrix detectives but with the centralisation of the intelligence function across the force this will not impact on our ability to fight against gun crime.  

"These changes represent a challenge for our force. However, I am confident that we will deliver the cost savings while continuing to provide an excellent policing service across our region. We are incredibly proud of the falls in crime that we have seen in Merseyside over recent years and we will continue to work tirelessly to reduce crime and put offenders before the courts so that justice can be done."   

Cllr Bill Weightman, Chair of the Merseyside Police Authority said:  

"Our local communities are at the heart of all Merseyside Police Authority decisions, and I can reassure people the changes we have agreed to this week are the result of a robust process of considering and debating the options. Having said that, we have been in the unfortunate position of balancing what matters most to the people of Merseyside with the need to make £61.5m savings following Government cuts to our funding   

"In terms of what matters most, people tell us they want to see bobbies on the beat and that we should continue to focus on anti-social behaviour. For that reason, we supported the Chief Constable’s proposals to close a number of GEOs, many of which are not well-used. In the current environment, it makes sense to release as many officers as possible from behind these desks where they come into contact with relatively few people. The proposals agreed by the police authority will mean instead an additional 38 police officers out on our streets, keeping people safe.  

"I would also like to reassure people that we haven’t considered the closure of a single police station. All police stations will remain open and vital to Merseyside’s neighbourhood policing model. Victims of crime and others who would like to speak to their neighbourhood officers at their local police station will still be able to do so by appointment.   

"As for the future, Merseyside Police Authority will continue to scrutinise police performance, especially in areas where changes have been made, to make sure Merseyside Police is doing everything it can to make the most of the resources it has, and continues to provide the best service possible.   

"Even after this week’s decisions, the people of Merseyside should be made aware there remains a need to make an additional £24m of savings over the next two financial years to meet the published requirement within the Comprehensive Spending Review. Proposals to freeze Council Tax in 2012/13 also represent a cut in police authority funding in subsequent years. The authority recognises the ongoing governance and scrutiny of these measures will lie with the Government’s directly elected Police and Crime Commissioner."