Savings could see loss of 400 police officers

UNPRECEDENTED cuts of �42million will put nearly one in eight police officers at risk at Avon and Somerset Constabulary, a report has revealed.

The figures, contained in a document by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), revealed the total number of officers, PCSOs and staff working across the force area will be reduced by about 600 by 2015.

The figure includes 400 police officer posts - amounting to a 12 per cent reduction - plus 40 PCSOs and a further 160 police staff.

But the report highlighted how the force will look to protect frontline policing as much as possible, with the percentage of the force working on the frontline increasing from 86 per cent to 93 by the end of the changes.

A police spokesman said: “Our approach has focused primarily on our back office functions and departments, thereby restricting the impact that our plans have on the number of frontline officers.

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“We will continue with this approach, and hope that we can continue the success we have had over the past two years in both managing the financial pressures, at the same time as maintaining, and improving our performance.”

The HMIC assessment says Avon and Somerset has already made significant inroads into reshaping its services, but says crime rates have dropped during that time - while public satisfaction with police performance remains above the national average.

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It adds: “The constabulary plans to protect the frontline as far as possible.

“Its intention is to continue to deliver the same or better levels of service on the frontline by investing in modern technology and changing the way it works.”

A Freedom Of Information Act request submitted by the North Somerset Times revealed there had been a reduction of 107 officers in the financial year 2011-12, saving �4,922,000. Almost a quarter of the cuts, 24, came from the force’s roads policing unit.

Five officers were from North Somerset and 17 from Somerset East and Somerset West combined.

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