AVON and Somerset police have announced major changes to the way it operates including the loss of 134 jobs.
Many of the changes will be internal but the constabulary said the public would see more officers on patrol including new neighbourhood managers to tackle hot spots, a review of shift patterns, a new ‘catch and disrupt’ team to crackdown on criminals, all cases dealt with as quickly as possible and the use of three new custody centres.
The review will, however, see the reduction of 134 police officer posts overall including 61 PCs. But Chief Constable Nick Gargan said the figure was less than originally thought necessary.
He said: “Not only have the team found a way for a shrinking police force to maintain its standards, but they have also improved existing plans to absorb cuts that lie ahead – reducing previously anticipated PC reductions of 161 to just 61. And a much greater proportion of that smaller workforce will be on the frontline, with every neighbourhood policing post protected.
“It’s a time of rapid but unavoidable change. With the support of our staff, partner agencies and community, we will transform the organisation for the future and mitigate the impact of successive budget reduction.”
The job losses, which also include superintendents, will help the force to save £8million which will contribute to the overall £42million it needs to save overall. An additional £200,000 of savings will be realised through new ways of working in the force’s communications centre.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “I am very supportive of the constabulary’s approach. In reviewing the way they operate they are putting local people first and ensuring policing is responsive to demand.
“The programme will deliver savings which are required over the next two years although this was not the primary motivating factor for developing the operating model.
"I will be closely scrutinising the model and asking the questions that local people will want answered. I will be listening to local people throughout the progress of the operating model to make sure it meets local peoples’ expectations.”
The review, which comes shortly after Mr Gargan took over the force, was based on three principles of making things better for the public, simpler for staff and looking at what is of value to the organisation.
It was the biggest engagement exercise the constabulary has ever undertaken and involved surveys, panels and Dragons Den type events.
In addition, the force has revealed the three new custody centres in Patchway, Keynsham and Bridgwater due to open this summer will be run by in-house staff. Outsourcing the contract would have cost an extra £599,000 over four years.