LANCASHIRE is to lose 550 police officers – 160 from the frontline – as part of £41m cuts announced today.
Around 800 posts will go – including both police officers and civilian staff – the force will attend thousands of fewer incidents, while neighbourhood policing will also be hit.
Two thirds of the 800 posts being axed as part of the four-year plan are expected to be police officers from all areas of the constabulary, with a third going from general police staff.
Around 160 frontline officer posts will go from areas such as road policing, neighbourhood policing and response.
The others will be taken from back office functions such as training, HR and scientific support.
Civilian staff who work in areas such as manning phones, administration, estates and ICT will also go. So far 433 posts have already gone – 282 officers and 151 police staff.
Chief Constable Steve Finnigan initially warned 1, 000 jobs would go – but the figure has since dropped.
He has reassured the public the force is committed to protecting frontline staff and reducing crime
To date £38m in cost savings have been found.
He said: “Every aspect of the Constabulary’s business is under review We are being pretty tough in our decision-making about how much we are taking from support functions, which gives us flexibility to take less from the front line.
“I’m under no illusion these reductions are painful, staff have shown fantastic resilience throughout this very difficult process.
“We are making progress and the public can be reassured we are leaving no stone unturned in our non-frontline services to take money out where we can.”
Changes are also set to be made to the way police calls are handled in a bid to manage the devastating cuts.
Response teams are to be split into two, one for emergency calls and one for less urgent which the force says will speed up response times.
Blackpool’s neighbourhood policing team looks set to have escaped the axe – but frontline officer numbers will be reduced when cuts in response and road policing are taken into account.
Surrounding areas of the county, like Preston, Leyland and Chorley have seen numbers slashed.
Details of where the staffing cuts are to be made have not yet been finalised. Police recruitment was frozen in 2009 and staff leaving and retiring has seen officer numbers drop by 282. Those who have left the force have not been replaced.
Police officers cannot be made redundant by law, so 67 of those posts lost have been redeployed into other areas of the force.
So far there have been 15 compulsory redundancies of police staff and 27 voluntary redundancies.
A combination of staff leaving and retirements has seen numbers dip by 151.
Mr Finnigan (above) added there were significant challenges ahead. He said: “Even though it will be a big ask as the impact of the cuts start to bite, I’m clear reducing crime will remain our focus.
“While our performance aspirations may change to reflect the current reality, our determination to provide the best possible crime reductions and detections, coupled with a high quality policing service, will not.”
“Lancashire Police has a proud tradition of consistently delivering excellent policing.
“Our ultimate aim is to ensure we have safe, secure and confident communities, and a police force the public can be proud of.”