“Hundreds of jobs” to be axed, warns Essex Police chief

HUNDREDS of jobs at Essex Police – including front line police officers – will have to be cut to help meet the Government’s budget deficit.

HUNDREDS of jobs at Essex Police – including front line police officers – will have to be cut to help meet the Government’s budget deficit.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday (Wednesday), Essex Chief Constable Jim Barker McCardle said “hundreds and hundreds” of jobs would be axed as the force looks to find about �45million worth of savings over the next four years.

“We want to reduce our overall headcount by as little as possible, but it is realistic for people to expect it to be in the high hundreds,” he said.

“About 80 per cent of our budget is on people and there is no way we could make savings in the region of �45m without fewer police staff and police officers.”

The number of police officers in Essex is currently 3600, but Mr Barker McCardle said he would not know until after the Government’s autumn spending review how much this figure would have to be reduced.

Essex Police’s current budget of �267m also pays for 2340 support staff and 400 police community support officers (PCSOs), both of which will have to be reduced.

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“We need to keep the right balance between police officers and support staff,” he said. “There’s no point having police officers spending all their time doing paperwork.”

The Chief Constable said he would be using the financial situation to create “a new blueprint for policing in Essex” which would deliver a more streamlined and efficient service.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fundamentally change all the organisational givens within the force,” he said. “I’m not saying that the recession is a good thing, but I do have to spot an opportunity for a fresh start.

“It is a daunting challenge, but this needs to be grasped with both hands. This is the time to push the boundaries and to create a cheaper and more effective force.

“We don’t want to be brow-beaten by some people’s desire to count, measure and weigh everything as if it was a piece of lead. I want to expunge any unnecessary work.

“If we worry about counting everything we risk losing what is at the heart of policing.”

Mr Barker McCardle added that they would also need to run policing in Essex from a smaller number of buildings and indicated that between seven and nine police stations would follow the example in Tiptree where officers now deploy from the fire station and have a public desk at the library.

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