Lancashire Police is facing huge cuts to services over the next four years in order to make £73m of savings, police chiefs have warned.
They confirmed recent reviews will result in a further loss of 165 police officer posts and 275 police staff posts – taking the predicted reductions from 2009 to 2017/18 in police officer posts to 700 and police staff posts to 550.
Chief Con Steve Finnigan said the force is “facing our greatest challenge and most radical changes in over 30 years”.
He said: “We have navigated through the challenge well so far and have identified nearly £40 million and not broken the business and to find this money we have had to take very difficult decisions.
“What has been really important throughout this review is that we minimise the impact on frontline and visible policing but with nearly 700 police officers fewer, we cannot leave those areas untouched.
“We are facing our greatest challenge and most radical changes in over 30 years and yet we want to reassure all our communities that, despite these cuts, we will continue to deliver the high quality policing services that this Constabulary is known for.”
Changes in operational and support services have identified £20m in savings which will come from a wholesale restructure of the force, which involves reducing the number of territorial divisions from six to three, reviewing the specialist crime and operations divisions as well as a reduction in overall support services.
The force says management costs will be reduced significantly and work is ongoing to re-prioritise where resources will be based and what they are expected to do.
Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said if the government was to ask for further savings on top of the £73m that this would be extremely difficult to find.
He said: “We have already saved £40m and this latest raft of changes in operational and support services will take the savings to just over £60m which still leaves a gap of around £13m to be found – anything beyond this will be extremely difficult to find.
“It is really important that people in Lancashire have a clear understanding of what the police have to do to balance the budget.”
Changes will be implemented on a sequenced basis between 2014 and 2017/18 with the new force ‘footprint’ being in place by April 2014.