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Northumbria Mitigates Officer Losses

Force moves to preserve manpower – and announces that it will begin recruiting officers again

Northumbria Police will “significantly reduce” the number of officers it initially planned to lose in the Comprehensive Spending Review period – and is even going to start recruiting.

The north east force had estimated that it would need to axe some 730 officer posts by 2015 but Chief Constable Sue Sim now believes “this figure will reduce by several hundred”.

She added that 40 new police officers will be appointed to the force this year from existing police staff and special constables.

In its Policing in Austerity report published on June 2, HMIC said the force needed to save some £80 million between March 2011 and March 2015.

There are currently 3,855 officers, 1,489 police staff and 418 CSOs in Northumbria Police but HMIC said that the force is planning to cut this workforce by 1,890 between March 2010 and March 2015.

It said that 730 of those would be police officer posts – this would have meant 17 per cent fewer cops patrolling the streets of Newcastle and the surrounding area.

But CC Sim responded: “When we provided the information to HMIC in 2010, it was calculated that the police officer element of savings equated to the loss of up to 730 police officers through natural turnover by 2015.

“However, I am pleased to say that as a result of identified savings measures and efficiencies through restructuring that this figure will reduce by several hundred.

“We have worked hard to identify savings in a number of non-staff areas, totalling over £20 million so far.

“This means we can significantly reduce the number of officers and staff we need to lose.”

CC Sim said the force had been concentrating on making savings by “reducing unnecessary bureaucracy, streamlining and putting our resources where and when we need them most”.

She added that the force would be “exploring opportunities for possible collaborative working and strategic partnership ventures to reduce costs and improve quality of delivery”.

CC Sim added: "We are also looking at ways to make the best use of our buildings, identifying those we no longer need, or can use more efficiently. This includes operating without the need for a traditional HQ site.”

She concluded: “I am pleased to say that we are also able to reopen future recruitment for police officers.

“This year 40 new officers will be appointed from our existing police staff and special constables.”

Gordon Armstrong, Chairman elect of Northumbria Police Federation, said: “Government cuts to policing are forcing these reductions in police officers on the force.

“The good news is that as a result of efficiency savings the force has indicated the reductions in officer numbers predicted in today's HMIC report may actually be reduced. We fully support the chief constable in her efforts to maintain visible policing services.”

Roger Baker, HM Inspector of Constabulary for the Northern Region, said: “If you look at the track record of Northumbria Police and the first class style of policing they have got there, it works. It is going to have to work with less people.

“Will they do it? Yes they will in my opinion.”

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