Nearly 700 police jobs could go over the next four years

NEARLY 700 police officer and staff posts in Comet country’s forces could disappear over the next four years.

Hertfordshire Constabulary is estimated to lose 550 staff and officer posts in the coming four years, and Bedfordshire Police is expected to lose 100 officer and 27 staff roles over two.

Both police authorities are facing funding shortfalls after central government cut funding grants last year.

Hertfordshire’s force face a loss of �36m over four years, and Bedfordshire police need to make �6.3 million saving in year one, and a further �5.6 million of efficiencies in year two.

Both forces are aiming to reduce numbers by halting recruitment. Hertfordshire’s force are for example carrying 100 vacancies which will account for a number of roles being cut.

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Natural wastage, where staff move to other forces or retire, is also expected to account for losses.

Neil Aston, chairman of Hertfordshire Police Federation, said: “The issue for our members is that there is a balance between officer posts and staff posts.

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“We’re not overly concerned about police numbers but more that we can provide a reasonable service for the people of Hertfordshire.”

“It’s important to have a reasonable number of police officers, but we must cope with what we have.”

Mr Aston said he was also concerned with the impact of the 2012 Olympics on Hertfordshire police, and what effect elected commissioners could have on the force when authorities are abolished in the same year.

A spokesman for Hertfordshire Police Authority said: “There’s a lot of unknowns at this stage. It depends on how we get on with collaborations and other projects.

“We will try our best to keep that number down and deal with natural wastage wherever possible. At this stage we can’t say how many there will be.”

Last week Alf Hitchcock, Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, confirmed that his force was aiming to reduce its numbers by 100 police officers over the next two years, and by about 27 civilian staff.

Finance for the following year will be discussed at Bedfordshire Police Authority’s financial committee meeting next week.

On the agenda for the meeting a report details where reductions could be made, and 56 officer and 27 staff posts have been pencilled in to be cut this year.

The Intelligence and Public Protection units could lose the most officers with 12 and 14 roles being potentially axed respectively.

The Public Protection Unit manages sexual offenders and the document says the reduction will have a “limited impact” on investigations as Bedfordshire police have “proved a concept” that “warranted powers are not required in certain investigation roles associated with child abuse and sexual offender management”.

The Intelligence division may also be centralised.

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