Merseyside Police have revealed the increased burden of cutting costs could spell the end for their 364 community support officers and the mounted division.
Deputy Chief Constable Andy Cooke said:
“Since April 2011, Merseyside Police has been required to save £77.4m which has resulted in the loss of 1,500 officers and staff.
Throughout the five years we have worked hard, while making required cuts to our budget, to protect the frontline and ensure that we provide the policing service our public rightly expects.
“Going forward there is potential that the £48m we were expected to save in the next four years, starting in April 2016, is likely to increase substantially to £70m or more.
“This means that the force will have exceptionally hard decisions to make in relation to how the force functions and how we can provide an effective policing model that puts our communities’ needs at the heart of everything we do.
Mr Cooke continued: “The depth of the savings required has now gone beyond making small efficiencies.
“They now affect the whole structure of the force and the service we deliver to the community.
“When I became Deputy Chief Constable, Merseyside Police consisted of 7,276 people, by 2019 the budgetary forecasts predict that Merseyside Police will consist of just 4,444 people, and we will have lost a staggering 40 per cent of our workforce.
“There is no way you can take so many people out of a workforce and make such significant reductions to an organisation’s budget and expect it to deliver the same quality of service.
“As a result of extensive research we have identified that we may no longer be able to provide Police Community Support Officers, or a dedicated mounted section, and work is underway to establish if this would be feasible.
“No final decisions will be made until February 2016.
“It is with a heavy heart that the force is considering cutting both of these invaluable areas of its policing service.”
Mr Cooke said PCSOs have more than proved their worth, working alongside police officers since they were introduced in 2003 and have played an integral part in the neighbourhood policing service.
The mounted section too is highly valued and provides invaluable support for community-based policing at football matches and other major events as well as during incidents of public disorder.
“Our options are not in any way finalised and we are still working hard to examine all available options, including voluntary severance for police officers and voluntary early retirement or voluntary redundancy for police staff in other areas of force business,” said Mr Cooke.
“Throughout the next few months we will work with unions and the Police Federation to ensure we effectively consult and communicate with our staff at every opportunity.
“Throughout the last five years the quality and professionalism of the officers and staff who work for Merseyside Police has always come to the fore and we will endeavour to provide the best possible service we can with the officers and staff we have left.”
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