Opinion: Norfolk Police cuts far too harsh
14:14 03 March 2014
On February 24, Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey told 200 of my police staff colleagues that he will be recommending that in an attempt to meet government’s cuts to police budgets, their departments will be relocated to Suffolk in a shared services partnership (SSP) scheme.
On February 27 – as you reported – the Norfolk and Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioners’ (PCC) Collaboration Panel considered this, along with the proposal to move Suffolk’s 999 call room staff to Norfolk. No decisions were made at that meeting.
I have no axe to grind with Mr Bailey and Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner, Stephen Bett, who have to make life-shattering decisions for my members, their staff, our colleagues, because of the relentless demands from the Home Office to meet December’s additional 6pc police budget cuts.
The constabulary has been transforming and modernising for years to improve policing for Norfolk, and making savings before being required to.
But this then left less to cut when the first Comprehensive Spending Review came in, and – as you reported at the time – the fact that Norfolk had already made savings wasn’t reflected by the government’s new savings demands, despite personal pleas to the Home Office by the PCC and the CC. So the constabulary has continuously reviewed and continuously cut. And despite the joint efforts of me and the constabulary to minimise redundancies we have lost staff, and I have colleagues who have been at risk of redundancy five times.
The general public might say that it doesn’t matter where these jobs are put. And that is where we have arrived in today’s society, where we have forgotten that chasing ever-changing numbers at the bottom of a balance sheet is ruining people and their lives.
My members are Norfolk residents. Many, whose jobs were centralised under the early cuts, already travel many miles a day to get to work. Many others affected by this recommendation, relocated to Wymondham and the surrounding villages when the constabulary moved there. Their children go to schools there. They spend their earnings in the local shops there. If my members lose their jobs, this will undoubtedly impact on the local economy.
In reality for the majority of my members working across the county boundary won’t happen as it will be both cost and time prohibitive. And not only will this be devastating for my members but the impending skills loss to the constabulary will be a massive and impacting risk.
Norfolk Police Unison branch secretary, Falconers Chase, Wymondham.