Police officer cull to cost 436 their jobs

ANGERPR ''STABBING AT SHEFFIELD LANE TOP  Police officers at the scene at Swanbourne Road, Sheffield Lane Top.    1 September 2010
ANGERPR ''STABBING AT SHEFFIELD LANE TOP Police officers at the scene at Swanbourne Road, Sheffield Lane Top. 1 September 2010

A TOTAL of 436 police officer posts are set to be lost within three years after police chiefs increased their figures to meet Government funding cuts.

The latest estimation for the number of officers, civilians and PCSOs they have to lose to balance the books has risen to 1,247.

Bosses have told Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies that compared to last March, when there were 2,974 police officers employed in South Yorkshire, they have only budgeted for 2,538 on the payroll by 2015 in a bid to cut costs.

They also plan to reduce the number of civilians employed by the force by 793 - from 2,408 in March last year to just 1,615 by 2015.

There were plans to cut the number of Police Community Support Officers working in the county from 317 to 299 - a reduction of 18 - but the latest figures available from South Yorkshire Police this week show that there are presently only 294.

The police officer roles will go through retirement and transfers because these jobs are protected from redundancy by law. Some civilian posts will be lost through natural wastage while others will go through redundancies, some of which have already been put in place.

The figures were put forward by bosses earlier this year when HMIC carried out inspections on how police forces across the country were preparing for a 20 per cent cut in Government funding, which amounts to £41 million for South Yorkshire over four years.

Police chiefs revealed earlier this year that a total of 1,100 positions would need to be axed, but now for the first time exact figures have been unveiled, which reveal a bleaker picture than before with 147 extra posts facing the axe.

And they admit the figures could still change over the next few years, with decisions not yet made on recommendations put forward following a national review into police officer pay and conditions which could have an impact on budgets.

There are currently 2848 police officers and 2,064 civilians employed by the force.

South Yorkshire’s Deputy Chief Constable, Bob Dyson, said the county’s police force had been ’nationally recognised’ over a number of years for ‘effectively managing resources in tight financial circumstances’.

He added: “The past three years have seen the force deliver £18 million of savings.

“We have successfully delivered this while improving the quality of services we are delivering to the public, with many crime categories at record lows and overall recorded crime at its lowest level in 19 years.

“Considerable work is being undertaken to do all that we can to minimise the effect on the service we provide to the public however we will see significant reductions in staff numbers as 83 per cent of our budget is spent on people.

Jim Lucas, of the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said: “We don’t want to frighten people and we will try to provide the best service we can with the resources we have got but there could be a rise in crime and people might not get the first class service South Yorkshire Police have proudly provided.”

Sheffield MP and former Home Secretary David Blunkett said: “The police leadership team in South Yorkshire is doing its best to try to minimise the impact in people in the community but if you withdraw back-up staff then it’s inevitable that frontline staff will have to pick up some of the jobs that others used to do.”

He said the job cuts were ‘bad news’ for the county and would ‘reduce confidence in the police’, may lead to an increase in crime and could reduce the amount of time officers have to spend on crime prevention work with partners including councils and communities.