Almost 400 constables to go as Essex Police looks to save �41million over next four years

ESSEX Police faces a “colossal challenge” to slash �41 million from its budget over the next four years.

That was the message from its chief constable, Jim Barker-McCardle, who unveiled a new blueprint for the force at a press conference today (Friday).

He said that Essex would witness an “eye-watering reduction” in police numbers, including the loss of some 388 constables (saving �17m) and 100 community support officers and 600 backroom staff (together saving �14m). A further �10m will look to be trimmed from non-pay costs, such as uniform and transport.

As part of the blueprint there will also be a mass reorganisation of the operational boundaries which will see Uttlesford sit in a new ‘north’ division alongside Colchester, Braintree, Tendring, Chelmsford and Maldon. Uttlesford will share one chief inspector in a new district policing area with Braintree.

Mr Jim Barker-McCardle said the changes “amount to the most significant within policing in Essex in peace time”.

“It is a colossal challenge, but this is a challenge we are determined to rise to,” he added.

Other changes in the blueprint - which will come into effect in March 2012 - include alterations to the shift patterns of officers to meet demand, and making better use of police intelligence. The force will also look to make better use of modern technology, such as issuing beat bobbies with iPad computers.

Most Read

There are plans to review - and probably reduce - the opening hours at some or all of the county’s 46 police station front counters.

Significantly, response hubs will be set up at “key locations” around the county as part of a new borderless policing scheme which will see officers nearest to the scene attending calls regardless of what division they are in.

“This is a huge change for policing in Essex but I am confident that across the force we are building a very strong model to take forward policing in to a new age,” said Mr Barker-McCardle.

“Essex is one of the safest counties in the country in terms of overall levels of crime – the most important principle in the blueprint is that we keep it that way.”

WHAT do you think of the new blueprint? E-mail your thoughts to