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Norfolk police map out £25m spending cuts

PUBLISHED: 07:24 13 April 2011 | UPDATED: 07:52 13 April 2011

Chief constable Phil Gormley

Chief constable Phil Gormley

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2010

The number of safer neighbourhood teams in Norwich is set to be cut from seven to four as part of police spending cuts - but chiefs said they were working to minimise the impact on front-line policing.

Existing teams in Earlham, Larkman and Marlpit, Heartsease and Thorpe Hamlet, Lakenham and Tuckswood, Mile Cross, Catton and Fiddlewood, University and Eaton and the city centre will be replaced by teams covering Norwich east, north, south and west.

The new units will correspond with Norwich City Council’s new neighbourhood management areas, which the force hopes will mean officers and council officials will be able to work more closely together.

The change will mean a reduction in the number of inspectors and sergeants in supervisory roles within the teams, but the number of PCs and PCSOs who walk to beat will remain the same.

There are a total of 187 PCs and PCSOs in Norwich.

Between 150 and 350 police officer posts will be lost across Norfolk over the next four years as the force looks to balance the books in the wake of government spending cuts.

The exact number will be reviewed as the full scale of other savings becomes clear but the force hopes the number will be at the lower end of the scale.

About 60 PCSO and 230 civilian posts will also go.

Norfolk police have mapped out proposals to cut almost £25m from the force’s annual £148m budget – promising they will minimise the impact on front-line policing.

The number of safer neighbourhood teams across the rest of Norfolk will remain unchanged at 46.

Virtually all civilian functions, except police community support officers, will be shared between Norfolk and Suffolk police and the two forces will continue to look at ways they can share key policing functions.

The major investigation team was the first department to be merged and other units including firearms and other protective services are to be combined. Other services such as custody officers will soon be combined and a review is under way into the possibility of a joint control room to answer 999 calls.

Chiefs say the plan is designed to protect the frontline as much as possible.

For example, the reduction in safer neighbourhood teams in Norwich will see supervisory posts, inspector and sergeant ranks cut, but PCs and PCSOs on the ground will remain at current levels.

Other changes include reducing the demand on frontline officers by allowing PCSOs to deal with low level crime and anti-social behaviour, while non-crime incidents will be handled over the phone within the force’s command and control room. Changes to shift patterns are also to be implemented.

The new model will potentially lead to the loss of one superintendent, two chief inspectors, six inspectors and 20 sergeants.

This will amount to a predicted saving of about £1.7m.

The review is just one key element of the force’s Challenge Programme – an umbrella title for a series of reviews looking into ways of cutting costs across its operations. Chief constable Phil Gormley, pictured left, said the review should have minimal impact on local communities.

He said the process had been “an evolution and not a revolution” as elements of the former policing model had been retained.

Mr Gormley added: “We felt it was a priority to retain the principles of neighbourhood policing, not least because the SNTs are working well and are embedded within communities.

“By creating multi-skilled teams of officers who are supported by a single management structure and working to a single shift pattern, we are able to retain the best of the current mode of working.”

Stephen Bett, chairman of Norfolk Police Authority, said: “I think the chief constable and his senior team have climbed a mountain to find the potential for £24.5m worth of savings so soon after finding £19m of efficiency savings from modernisation in the past three years.

“It is quite possible that, by setting out to achieve minimal impact on the public, the people of Norfolk will notice little obvious difference in the service they receive.”

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