140 officers to be axed under policing plan

By Ian Dipple Thursday 10 January 2013 Updated: 10/01 13:52

A TOTAL of 140 police officers will be lost across West Mercia over the next four years under plans unveiled by the police and crime commissioner (PCC).

Bill Longmore has set out his vision for policing up until 2017 in his draft police and crime plan, which in the face of government funding cuts will see 140 officer posts go in West Mercia and 60 in Warwickshire.

Another 450 police staff posts will be cut across the two force areas.

The figure could rise further if the Government announces more spending cuts in future years.

But the plan does set out provision to increase the number of special constables - volunteer police officers - and to ensure PCSO levels do not fall below 200.

Both forces have joined together to form an alliance which will save £31million up until 2016 by sharing back office functions, removing duplication of services and directing resources into frontline policing.

The alliance is in response to a three per cent cut in Home Office funding by 2015.

Mr Longmore said as far as possible he would not be forcing PCs to retire or making PCSOs redundant and expected the majority of posts to be lost through retirement or promotion to new ranks.

"The biggest challenge is the spending reductions we face. However, our plans to work with Warwickshire should help the maintenance of service standards despite these," he said.

But Ken MaKaill, chairman of West Mercia Police Federation, said he was "deeply disappointed and concerned" by the proposed cuts.

"Vastly reducing the numbers of experienced officers and replacing them with volunteer constables and community support officers who don’t have the power of arrest is not in the interests of the community within West Mercia," he said.

Taxpayers are also being asked whether they would accept a two per cent increase in the police portion of the council tax from April, despite the Government offering £800,000 a year over the next two years to the force to keep bills on hold.

The rise would add £3.64 a year to the average Band D bill from April, but would allow about 30 police officers and 60 PCSO posts to be maintained beyond 2015/16.

The full plan is available to view online at www.westmercia-pcc.gov.uk and Mr Longmore and West Mercia Police Chief Constable David Shaw are holding a live webcast on January 15 when people will be able to email in their questions to westmerciapcc@gmail.com from 2pm and receive responses.

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