140 police jobs face the axe

SCRAPPED: Frontline police officer jobs will be axed across the West Mercia force area over the next four years.

SCRAPPED: Frontline police officer jobs will be axed across the West Mercia force area over the next four years.

First published in News Evesham Journal: Tom Edwards Exclusive by , Political Reporter

ABOUT 140 police officer jobs will be axed across the West Mercia force area over the next four years, it has emerged.

Under a controversial deal with Warwickshire, the forces will lose a combined 200 frontline officers by 2016 – 70 per cent of whom will come from West Mercia Police. A draft version of the Police and Crime Plan was launched yesterday by the region’s new elected police chief Bill Longmore.

It runs to 55 pages and is designed to last until 2017, includes 450 civilian job cuts across both forces, including 315 from West Mercia Police.

Some of the 140 posts set to go are vacancies which are currently empty, although police chiefs will not say how many. Both forces have formed an alliance designed at saving £31 million between them, £20 million of which would come from West Mercia.

Mr Longmore said: “The biggest challenge is the spending reductions we face. However, our plans to work with Warwickshire should help the maintenance of service standards despite these.

“From my first day in office we have been working hard to ensure we have a detailed and meaningful plan on which to consult.”

Police chiefs yesterday said they could not give any further figures breaking down the number of officers being axed in south Worcestershire at this stage.

Mr Longmore said he hoped natural wastage and promotions to other ranks would make up the bulk of the losses.

West Mercia Police has a budget of more than £200 million but is facing cuts in funding from the Government of at least three per cent by 2015.

Meanwhile, residents are being encouraged to pay for an increase in council tax from April – with Mr Longmore saying a freeze could lead to more cuts. He is giving households the option to pay an extra £3.64 a year.

He says the small rise would fund 30 police constable jobs beyond 2015/16 and wants the public to send him feedback.

l People have until Monday, January 28, to have their say on the plan, which can be viewed at westmercia-pcc.gov.uk.

To get involved, write to Mr Longmore at OPCC West Mercia, PO Box 487, Shrewsbury, SY2 6WB or e-mail opcc@westmercia. pnn.police.uk. There will also be a live webcast on his site on Tuesday from 2pm, where the public can get their questions ans-wered by Mr Longmore and chief constable David Shaw. People must e-mail questions to westmerciapcc@gmail.com in advance. A final version of the plan will be published in March.

Critics hit out at plans

CRITICS have labelled the plan as a breadth of ineptitude and claim Mr Longmore is using a sticking plaster to reduce crime.

The document outlines major cuts to police officers while saying it wants to give police community support officers (PCSOs) more powers and boost the number of special constables.

Tony Miller, a retired former civilian worker at West Mercia Police and councillor at Worcestershire County Council and in Wychavon, said: “At the moment there is a real battle going on with police forces – the Assoc-iation of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has now been saying the 40-odd forces we’ve got at the moment is too many, which is a turnaround from what’s been said in the past.

“If you’re asking PCSOs to do the work of police constables, that doesn’t work well.”

Councillor Simon Gerag-hty, leader of Worcester City Council, said: “This is a crucial document, and I don’t think the public realise quite how important it is yet.

“I would welcome giving PCSOs more powers, but it can’t be at the expense of police officers.”

Worcester councillor Adr-ian Gregson said he was very concerned about job losses and it would impact on neighbourhoods across the city. He said: “I am worried the cuts will have a direct effect on the ability of police to respond and keep neighbourhoods safe.

“This is a sticking plaster and not a responsible alternative to proper policing – accountability is even more of an issue because of this merger with Warwickshire Police.

“The contents of the plan demonstrate a breadth of ineptitude.”

Mid-Worcestershire MP Peter Luff said: “I will be very disappointed if they put up council tax – that is always the easy option.”

The Police and Crime Panel, a watchdog-style body which scrutinises the commissioner, is going to be setting up a meeting to review the draft plan.

The session, which will be open to the public, will be used to send feedback on it to Mr Longmore.

It can veto any attempt to increase council tax, but other than that only has powers to offer advice.

Coun Paul Middlebrough, the chairman, said: “I’ve seen the plan but I can’t comment on it until the meeting takes place – we need to give everyone time to read it.”

Ron Ball, the commissioner for Warwickshire Police, was not available for comment yesterday.

Comments (10)

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7:25pm Thu 10 Jan 13

reflector says...

Poor old Bill doing the Government's dirty work for them. I almost feel sorry for him.

We were told that it was only 'back office' jobs that would go and that there would be no effect on levels of policing. Well, now we are beginning to see the results of the policy and the effect that it will have. But no one should have been fooled into thinking that swingeing cuts of 20% wouldn't have some effect on an already stretched police force.

This is Bill's opportunity to stand up and be counted. Is he on the side of the general public and will he tell the government that such cuts are unacceptable as they are bound to have an effect on crime, anti-social behaviour and road safety? I am not holding my breath on this one.
Poor old Bill doing the Government's dirty work for them. I almost feel sorry for him. We were told that it was only 'back office' jobs that would go and that there would be no effect on levels of policing. Well, now we are beginning to see the results of the policy and the effect that it will have. But no one should have been fooled into thinking that swingeing cuts of 20% wouldn't have some effect on an already stretched police force. This is Bill's opportunity to stand up and be counted. Is he on the side of the general public and will he tell the government that such cuts are unacceptable as they are bound to have an effect on crime, anti-social behaviour and road safety? I am not holding my breath on this one. reflector
  • Score: 0

9:37pm Thu 10 Jan 13

RogerLFC says...

“I would welcome giving PCSOs more powers' ~ You could see this coming a mile off. What sort of powers are they thinking of?
“I would welcome giving PCSOs more powers' ~ You could see this coming a mile off. What sort of powers are they thinking of? RogerLFC
  • Score: 0

10:31pm Thu 10 Jan 13

jb says...

Why give PCSO's more powers and increase the amount of special constables? The public perception of this is policing on the cheap. I was a special constable with West Mercia for 13 years and left in 2004 even then a lot of us could envisage a two tier policing system but nothing in the scale being brought in now.
There is NO substitution for the regular force, it provides a constant professional service. The more it's diluted the less effective it gets. Policing these days like everything else is based on balance sheets and not what it's set out to provide. The police, health service, social services etc Re governed by people who have their own personal agendas to fulfil. The public deserve better.
Why give PCSO's more powers and increase the amount of special constables? The public perception of this is policing on the cheap. I was a special constable with West Mercia for 13 years and left in 2004 even then a lot of us could envisage a two tier policing system but nothing in the scale being brought in now. There is NO substitution for the regular force, it provides a constant professional service. The more it's diluted the less effective it gets. Policing these days like everything else is based on balance sheets and not what it's set out to provide. The police, health service, social services etc Re governed by people who have their own personal agendas to fulfil. The public deserve better. jb
  • Score: 0

1:17am Fri 11 Jan 13

thompson9100 says...

Interesting comments so far, and the idea that this is bad is small fry compared to what would have happened had West Mercia not had reserves to lean on (unlike Warks and West Mids) or if the alliance with Warwickshire didn't go ahead. 140 officers over 3 counties isn't a lot really when you think of all those on long term restricted duties due to injury, other areas such as detective constables and those working behind the scenes. And to add to that more pcs are being recruited across both forces because so many vacancies have been left open to stop redundancy. The likelihood is we'll see no less or no more officers on the street than now at worst.
Interesting comments so far, and the idea that this is bad is small fry compared to what would have happened had West Mercia not had reserves to lean on (unlike Warks and West Mids) or if the alliance with Warwickshire didn't go ahead. 140 officers over 3 counties isn't a lot really when you think of all those on long term restricted duties due to injury, other areas such as detective constables and those working behind the scenes. And to add to that more pcs are being recruited across both forces because so many vacancies have been left open to stop redundancy. The likelihood is we'll see no less or no more officers on the street than now at worst. thompson9100
  • Score: 0

9:07am Fri 11 Jan 13

reflector says...

thompson9100 wrote:
Interesting comments so far, and the idea that this is bad is small fry compared to what would have happened had West Mercia not had reserves to lean on (unlike Warks and West Mids) or if the alliance with Warwickshire didn't go ahead. 140 officers over 3 counties isn't a lot really when you think of all those on long term restricted duties due to injury, other areas such as detective constables and those working behind the scenes. And to add to that more pcs are being recruited across both forces because so many vacancies have been left open to stop redundancy. The likelihood is we'll see no less or no more officers on the street than now at worst.
Don't forget this is on top of the cuts that have already taken place. Even worse, most if not all, that have already gone are the most experienced and long serving officers and support staff.

There are many other organisations in both the public and private sectors who have fallen over themselves to get rid of longer serving and more expensive staff and then found that the experience lost has been highly damaging to their effectiveness.

In many jobs, and policing is one of them, there is simply no substitute for experience.
[quote][p][bold]thompson9100[/bold] wrote: Interesting comments so far, and the idea that this is bad is small fry compared to what would have happened had West Mercia not had reserves to lean on (unlike Warks and West Mids) or if the alliance with Warwickshire didn't go ahead. 140 officers over 3 counties isn't a lot really when you think of all those on long term restricted duties due to injury, other areas such as detective constables and those working behind the scenes. And to add to that more pcs are being recruited across both forces because so many vacancies have been left open to stop redundancy. The likelihood is we'll see no less or no more officers on the street than now at worst.[/p][/quote]Don't forget this is on top of the cuts that have already taken place. Even worse, most if not all, that have already gone are the most experienced and long serving officers and support staff. There are many other organisations in both the public and private sectors who have fallen over themselves to get rid of longer serving and more expensive staff and then found that the experience lost has been highly damaging to their effectiveness. In many jobs, and policing is one of them, there is simply no substitute for experience. reflector
  • Score: 0

11:38am Fri 11 Jan 13

Nikrem says...

How about we hire more police & sack some MP's, & ofcourse lower the MP's salarys greatly to pay for it.

Why axe people that work for their money but keep corrupt snakes that suck every ounce of money dry they can come across, while doing very little for it.
How about we hire more police & sack some MP's, & ofcourse lower the MP's salarys greatly to pay for it. Why axe people that work for their money but keep corrupt snakes that suck every ounce of money dry they can come across, while doing very little for it. Nikrem
  • Score: 0

2:37pm Fri 11 Jan 13

anarchist says...

When Labour came to power in the late 1990's they immediately dropped Council Tax capping but had to ignominiously re-introduce it ten years later after finding that many Police Authorities, including the West Mercia Police Authority (WMPA), were too close to Police Forces and were hence failing to represent the interests of local taxpayers by keeping policing costs under control.

As a result of this failure, the policing costs falling on local taxpayers in the West Mercia region have grown by over five times the rate of inflation on average over Labour's decade in power. They are now more than three times higher than they were in 1997.

Policing costs should reflect policing needs with areas where crime is high requiring more resources than those where crime is inherently much lower.

But the failure of the WMPA to control costs now means that local taxpayers in West Mercia - an area where crime is inherently relatively low - now pay 80% more for policing than those in the urban areas of the West Midlands where crime is a great deal higher.

And now we see our new PCC is clearly angling to ignore the need for a a Council Tax freeze by advocating further increases in our already highly excessive costs for policing.

Electing an ex-police officer to control the Police budget was never a good idea and it now seems that those who did so (and the rest of us) may well pay heavily for this folly.
When Labour came to power in the late 1990's they immediately dropped Council Tax capping but had to ignominiously re-introduce it ten years later after finding that many Police Authorities, including the West Mercia Police Authority (WMPA), were too close to Police Forces and were hence failing to represent the interests of local taxpayers by keeping policing costs under control. As a result of this failure, the policing costs falling on local taxpayers in the West Mercia region have grown by over five times the rate of inflation on average over Labour's decade in power. They are now more than three times higher than they were in 1997. Policing costs should reflect policing needs with areas where crime is high requiring more resources than those where crime is inherently much lower. But the failure of the WMPA to control costs now means that local taxpayers in West Mercia - an area where crime is inherently relatively low - now pay 80% more for policing than those in the urban areas of the West Midlands where crime is a great deal higher. And now we see our new PCC is clearly angling to ignore the need for a a Council Tax freeze by advocating further increases in our already highly excessive costs for policing. Electing an ex-police officer to control the Police budget was never a good idea and it now seems that those who did so (and the rest of us) may well pay heavily for this folly. anarchist
  • Score: 0

3:05pm Fri 11 Jan 13

Doogie 46 says...

anarchist - you are obviously not an anarchist - that is the most sensible and accurate comment that has been made on this subject by anybody.
anarchist - you are obviously not an anarchist - that is the most sensible and accurate comment that has been made on this subject by anybody. Doogie 46
  • Score: 0

3:07pm Fri 11 Jan 13

DarrenM says...

Heres an idea - all 200 could come from Warwickshire, living in West Mercia-land

I fail to see why I'm paying to police Warwickshire, in a merger that no-one asked for and the last time the public was asked to vote soundly turned it down.
Heres an idea - all 200 could come from Warwickshire, living in West Mercia-land I fail to see why I'm paying to police Warwickshire, in a merger that no-one asked for and the last time the public was asked to vote soundly turned it down. DarrenM
  • Score: 0

4:36pm Fri 11 Jan 13

thompson9100 says...

DarrenM wrote:
Heres an idea - all 200 could come from Warwickshire, living in West Mercia-land

I fail to see why I'm paying to police Warwickshire, in a merger that no-one asked for and the last time the public was asked to vote soundly turned it down.
What is difficult to get your head around is this isn't a merger. Warwickshire retain their own PCC, Chief Constable and finances. Where the alliance makes savings is from shared services, meaning less duplication across both forces. The forces will be funded separately by tax payers in their own areas and joint costs divided accordingly.

Merger is what happened when Shropshire was merged. Our precept in worcester, malvern, hereford, shrewsbury or anywhere in the 3 counties go to a central pot that is then used to pay for the whole force area.

I personally think the best way to curb costs would be to stop people drinking to excess SS policing that costs significantly more than anything else, but that wouldn't exactly go down well would it?
[quote][p][bold]DarrenM[/bold] wrote: Heres an idea - all 200 could come from Warwickshire, living in West Mercia-land I fail to see why I'm paying to police Warwickshire, in a merger that no-one asked for and the last time the public was asked to vote soundly turned it down.[/p][/quote]What is difficult to get your head around is this isn't a merger. Warwickshire retain their own PCC, Chief Constable and finances. Where the alliance makes savings is from shared services, meaning less duplication across both forces. The forces will be funded separately by tax payers in their own areas and joint costs divided accordingly. Merger is what happened when Shropshire was merged. Our precept in worcester, malvern, hereford, shrewsbury or anywhere in the 3 counties go to a central pot that is then used to pay for the whole force area. I personally think the best way to curb costs would be to stop people drinking to excess SS policing that costs significantly more than anything else, but that wouldn't exactly go down well would it? thompson9100
  • Score: 0
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