CUMBRIA’S new Chief Constable says he will protect frontline policing ‘as far as possible’ against spending cuts of £10.4 million.
A ‘reduction of officer and staff numbers’ looks inevitable, with staff making up 75 per cent of Cumbria police’s current costs.
Police shift patterns, front counters, neighbourhood policing teams and criminal justice are all under review as the force looks at ways of saving £10.4 million by 2017/18, to meet budget forecasts.
Cumbria police says it is too early to speculate on details and what the changes might be.
The force has already saved £16 million by restructuring and changing the way it works.
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Chief Constable Jerry Graham said: “We are currently reviewing a number of areas within Cumbria Constabulary as part of our ongoing need to make financial savings. We are continuing to look at innovative digital and mobile methods of working to help officers remain visible and accessible in their communities.
“Currently 75 percent of the costs are on staffing, therefore it is inevitable that the majority of future savings may have to be found in operational areas of the business, which will mean a reduction of officer and staff numbers.”
The force says it will consult local people and listen to their views, and will keep the public updated about any changes that may affect how they are policed.
Mr Graham said the county’s ten neighbourhood policing teams would be replaced by three teams - north, south and west - to trim management costs while keeping more police officers and community support officers on the street.
“Community policing remains a priority and there will still be dedicated officers and problem solvers for local communities,” said Mr Graham. “Named inspectors will still have responsibilities for geographical areas, and people will continue to receive an effective community service from their local police.
“Change is required due to budget cuts, but I am focused on protecting frontline policing as far as possible. I will continue to work hard to keep Cumbria one of the safest places to live, work, and visit, and provide the best possible policing service we can afford.”
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes said: “There are particular challenges for a largely rural county such as Cumbria. The recent report from the Chief Inspector of Constabulary makes the point that smaller forces based in rural areas are vulnerable.
“The Chief Constable and I remain totally committed to trying to retain an effective and independent police force in the county and these proposals are designed to achieve that.”