Hampshire police axe officer jobs in cost-cutting drive

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MORE than 160 police officer posts are being axed due to ‘drastic’ budget cuts.

Hampshire Constabulary is cutting 79 senior roles including chief inspectors, chief superintendents and superintendents as it battles to plug a gaping £20m budget gap in the next year.

And 82 front-line police officer jobs are being axed by not replacing people who have left or retired.

The force also hopes to save about £1.1m by not filling vacant police staff posts.

At least 107 staff have had applications for voluntary redundancy approved.

A further £2.97m will come from reviewing forensics, incident management and the criminal justice department, added to £770,000 from cutting overtime and a £4m underspend from last year.

The cuts come as Hampshire Constabulary faces a 5.14 per cent budget cut in the next year due to the government’s spending squeeze.

John Apter, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, said: ‘The chief constable has reassured me that there will be no impact on front-line policing until 2012.

‘However my concern is that as these cuts get deeper in the next few years they will become more damaging and it’s inevitable that there will be an impact on front-line policing.

‘I have got sympathy for the chief constable – he has got his hands tied.’

Kathy Symonds, Unison’s southern region police branch secretary, said: ‘Police officers aren’t being made redundant because they can’t be, but it is worrying that the government’s decision to make these drastic budget cuts is having this effect on policing, because ultimately it will affect delivery.’

Deputy chief constable Andy Marsh said: ‘The force is going to go from six policing areas to three areas in 2011/12, which means we need three fewer chief superintendents, but the bulk of the roles are sergeants and inspectors. We are also deleting posts as we reduce our budget.

‘Our intention was those supervisory ratios would be turned into officers on the front line. We haven’t been able to achieve that but we accept that current national position. This is an appropriate move to save money.

‘We are going to protect our headcount in neighbourhood policing, response policing and local criminal investigations for 2011/12 and it is our ambition to do so thereafter.

‘We want to improve our performance in terms of reducing violent crime and improvements to our ability to catch criminals.’