Budget cuts will cost Avon and Somerset force 400 officers
CUTS to the budget of Avon and Somerset Police will cost the force 400 officers, according to a new report.
A total of 610 jobs will have been cut by 2015 to plug the £42 million shortfall, with the remainder of losses coming from non-uniformed staff.
Plans are in place to make 86 per cent of the savings, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary said.
Forces across the country are facing cuts to their budgets of around 20 per cent up to 2015 but ministers say the front line should be protected, with efficiency savings found in 'back-office' functions.
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In 2010, Avon and Somerset employed 3,300 officers, 430 PCSOs and 1,870 police staff.
The total number of officers and staff allocated to front-line tasks will drop from 4,090 in March 2010 to 3,630 in 2015, HMIC said.
Two-thirds of the 610 jobs were due to have been cut by March this year, HMIC said. At 12 per cent of the total, the reduction in officer numbers is higher than the average of ten per cent. But HMIC said Avon and Somerset would have a higher proportion of officers in frontline roles, at 93 per cent. This has been the argument used by the government to justify the cuts in recent months.
Other measures include closing nine station front counters, although use of mobile police stations is up.
A spokesman for the force said that by 2015, the reduction in officers would be 367 or lower, not 400 as HMIC stated.
Chief constable Colin Port said: "The people in Avon and Somerset Police work very hard, and their achievements are highlighted by the HMIC. I'd like to highlight, despite the knocks, their continuous and continual desire to serve the public and improve that service, relentlessly."
Avon and Somerset Police Authority chairman Dr Peter Heffer said the force was delivering the cuts required by the council while improving detection rates and cutting crime.