SUFFOLK Police is to axe about 300 jobs over the next four years as it tries to deliver nearly £13 million of savings.
Around 200 of those jobs are expected to go in the next two years, with both police officers and staff likely to be affected. The county force is busy looking at ways of further collaboration with Norfolk Police – at the same time the Government has advised against forces merging.
Chief Constable of Suffolk Simon Ash, speaking at a chamber of commerce business meeting in Bury St Edmunds, said: “We always had our mind on efficiency as part of our budget process but we have always had the opportunity to reinvest this. These are cuts.
“The pressure is really on now to be delivering these savings. We are working through the detail at the moment.”
He said about £10 million of the savings and roughly two thirds of the job cuts would have to be made over the next two years.
The force currently employs about 2,400 people of which around half are police and the other half support staff – 80 per cent of its annual budget is spent on staffing.
“That just gives you the magnitude of our changes. For Suffolk it is going to be quite tricky because we already cost the second lowest per head of population nationally. If we were at the average, we would have about 250 extra people,” said Mr Ash.
He said he was committed to safer neighbourhood teams as ‘the bedrock of our policing’, adding that the force, which already has about 300 special officers – volunteer policemen – would also ‘branch out’ to take on volunteers to carry out jobs such as monitoring CCTV.
Mr Ash said anti-social behaviour was down 12 per cent on last year, but that a rise was ‘inevitable’ as organisations like Suffolk County Council, which faced its own budget problems, cut funding to youth clubs and after-school clubs.
“It is likely to put more youngsters out on the streets and that is likely to mean more people calling us about the things youngsters do to amuse themselves. As the youth provision contracts, that is likely to have a knock on effect for policing,” he said.
He added that police would prioritise to target anti-social behaviour against repeat victims to ensure there was no reoccurence of the 2007 Pilkington tragedy which led to criticism of Leicestershire police after a mum killed herself and her disabled daughter having suffered years of abuse from a gang of youths.