RISING cuts to Northumbria Police officer numbers will make it almost impossible to safeguard the force’s record on crime fighting, it has been claimed.
Officers at the Northumbria Police Federation have launched a major lobbying effort after figures revealed the true cost of police redundancies.
Previous figures had put the job losses hitting Northumbria at 825 civilian staff and a recruitment freeze seeing the number of warranted officers reduce by 318.
But figures up to 2015 show that even more officer posts will go, with a total of 544 fewer officers patrolling the streets in four years’ time.
The force is also likely to lose 185 community support officers, placing an even greater strain on already overworked officers. Civilian job losses will rise as well, with 19 extra redundancies.
Northumbria Police was tasked with a £57m budget reduction last year. The force still has to find £23m of additional savings.
Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell, a former Home Office minister, said the force would struggle to preserve services in light of the increased job losses.
He said: “These figures are far worse than earlier predictions and will see the force lose around 40% more officers than first suggested.
“On top of that we find out that PCSOs numbers will also be getting cut. The figures show that the claim by the force that fewer officers can deliver the same standards is increasing incredible.
“But these are decisions made by the Government, who are obviously cutting too far and too fast.”
Gordon Armstrong, vice-chairman of the Northumbria Police Federation, agreed the cuts would change the effectiveness of the force.
He said: “We have serious concerns that this will ultimately affect frontline services. We will lose more staff, more community support officers and more police officers.
“The effect is a drain on what we can expect of officers. If you have, for example, community support officers working custody, an officer brings someone in, hands them over to the sergeant and the support officers can help process the offender. Without them there that officer does not go back on the streets, he is tied up with paperwork.
“It is a huge worry, we are lobbying MPs and hoping the Conservatives will think again about this, because you just cannot preserve the frontline with cuts as bads as this.
“As far as the Federation is concerned the Government are forcing these cuts on the Chief Constable, although police have insisted services can be maintained.”
Chief Constable Sue Sim said: “We remain committed to protecting, as far as possible, 24/7 response and neighbourhood policing teams including CSO Patrol. We will also have detectives who continue to work with neighbourhood teams.
“We have been told that central Government funding for community support officers is protected until 2013, but beyond that the situation is unclear.
“However, we would emphasise our commitment to maintaining the number of CSOs who patrol our neighbourhoods.”
Derek Coates, treasurer for Northumbria Police Authority, said: “We are currently working to establish the scale of the reductions required for next year and to identify how those savings and reductions can be made while having the minimum effect on frontline services.
“The budget that is set for the year will be consistent with the medium term financial plan of the police authority.”