Nearly 150 police officer posts are to be lost as part of £8 million cuts announced by the Avon & Somerset force this afternoon.
Sixty-one of the 134 jobs to go will be PCs, the rest from every rank up to and including chief superintendent
The constabulary's 6,000 employees were given the news today. It comes after a seven-month review of how the service operates.
But Chief Constable Nick Gargan insists by reallocating resources and using better technology, there will be more bobbies on the beat rather than fewer.
Plans have also been revealed to close eight custody suites, to be replaced in the Spring by three new centres in Bridgwater, Patchway, near Bristol and Keynsham.
The custody suites closing are in Weston-super-Mare, Bridgwater, Broadbury Road, Trinity Road, Southmead (all Bristol), Taunton, Staple Hill (S Glos) and Bath.
Mr Gargan also refused to rule out closing some of the stations completely.
– Chief Constable, Nick Gargan
"If it's a question of closing some police stations, or sharing a base with a local council an keeping more police officers on the streets then difficult choices will have to be made,"
"I don't underestimate the challenges that lie ahead of us in making this happen but I'm confident that the changes will be for the better, for the organisation, for staff and for the public."
– Police & Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens
Police & Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said she was 'very supportive' of the plans but added: "I will be closely scrutinising the model and asking the questions that local people will want answered."
Along with many forces in England and Wales, Avon & Somerset have seen crime figures fall consistently over the last decade despite reducing police numbers. Surveys reveal public confidence in the police has risen.
But some of the constabulary's own staff have been highly critical of the way the organisation has been run in the past. Asking staff, including 500 frontline officers, for their opinions gained responses including:
- Not having the right equipment to do the job
- Inefficient, duplicate and inconsistent processes
- A failure to operate as one team
- Setting incorrect targets leading to wrong behavious
Avon & Somerset have a £42m funding gap to fill over four years and the Chief Constable and PCC both warn further cuts are 'inevitable'.