Avon and Somerset could lose 12% of its police officers by 2015
Police forces across the South West will axe almost 3,000 workers by 2015 – including nearly 1,600 officers, a report concluded yesterday.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) warned Devon & Cornwall was one of three forces that may not be able to provide an effective service in the future.
The figures were released as it emerged that policing the far right English Defence League’s upcoming march through Bristol will cost tax payers £500,000 and involve 1,000 police officers coming from as far away as Yorkshire.
All forces are being forced to make swingeing cuts because of reductions in funding by the coalition Government.
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The document finds Dorset is losing 308 officers, 21 per cent of its total, between 2010 and 2015, with Devon & Cornwall shedding 616, or 17 per cent, and Avon & Somerset 405, 12 per cent. Both Gloucestershire and Wiltshire are losing one in ten of its police officers, 125 and 119 respectively.
When police staff and police community support officers are included, Dorset is going to lose 989 employees between 2010 and 2015, 22 per cent of its total. Devon & Cornwall’s payroll will reduce by 989, 17 per cent, and Gloucestershire will shed 337 people, 15 per cent, Wiltshire 273 employees, 12 per cent and Avon & Somerset 608, 11 per cent.
Dorset is losing the biggest proportion of its police officers, along with Humberside, with more than one in five going, while in contrast Surrey is increasing its number by three per cent.
Cleveland is making the highest proportion of staff redundant with 29 per cent, while Surrey loses just two per cent.
HMIC says Avon & Somerset needs to save £42 million by March 2015, and is shedding more than the England and Wales average of ten per cent of police officers.
However the proportion of officers in frontline roles will rise from 86 per cent in March 2010 to 93 per cent in March 2015, higher than other forces. The force cut crime by two per cent in the year to last December and 88 per cent of victims were satisfied with the service they received, better than the national figure.
Dru Sharpling, HMIC for the Western Region, said Avon & Somerset had a track record of reducing costs, and was taking a careful approach that meant it was in a good position to achieve its target. “Although Avon & Somerset Constabulary will be reducing its workforce, and this includes cutting police officer posts, it intends to increase the proportion of officers in frontline roles by 2015,” he said.
“The force has an ambition to continue delivering improved policing in Avon & Somerset, to secure the highest levels of confidence in policing services and make communities feel safe.”
HMIC says across England and Wales, forces plan to cut their total workforce by 32,400 by March 2015, including 15,000 officers. It warned: “There is a risk that three forces (Devon & Cornwall, Lincolnshire and the Metropolitan Police) may not be able to provide a sufficiently efficient or effective service for the public in the future.”
Policing will be particularly stretched in Bristol on July 14 when the anti-Islamist EDL are due to march from Redcliffe Wharf to Queen Square.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary yesterday released details of how it planned to police the march and any counter-EDL protests that may take place. Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said around 1,000 police officers would be drafted in from a range of forces, including from Yorkshire, Wales, the Midlands and the South West. The police helicopter will also be available, providing officers with live footage of the march and any counter protests.
Mickey Bayliss, organiser of the planned march, said the EDL was committed to a “peaceful demonstration” against the “Islamification of Bristol”.