CLEVELAND Police are axing 324 officer positions as chiefs restructure how the force operates.
A shake-up of the service is underway to make £26m in real-term cuts by the 2014-15 financial year following the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review in April 2010.
It will see a reorganisation of leadership that will axe two superintendent or chief superintendent posts while chief inspectors will be cut from 20 to 17 and inspectors will fall to 75 from 86.
Four new teams are set to be created that will run across the Cleveland area. They are:
*Neighbourhood Policing, that will focus on communities;
*Crime and Justice, to investigate major crime and to deal with criminal justice matters;
*Operations, to deliver response policing and specialist support such as armed officers;
*And tasking and co-ordination, to coordinate resources.
Overall, the number of police officer posts is planned to fall from 1,724 in April 2010 to 1,400 in March 2014.
Temporary Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, Jacqui Cheer, said: “We have had to transform the way in which we operate because we are losing 300 police officers by 2014.
“We simply could not stay as we are and continue to provide the same level of service to members of the public with fewer officers.
“We needed a structure that would also allow us capacity if there are further financial cuts to the force and work has been ongoing for the last six months to design a structure that would work for us.
“We initially looked at five different models and then the final two models were presented to the executive team and a decision was made to implement the functional model.
“This is largely about a re-organisation internally so that members of the public do not see any change to the service we deliver.
“Neighbourhood policing will continue to be at the heart of everything we do, and will be delivered by police constables and police community support officers working in teams, dedicated to a geographic area with neighbourhood crime detectives.
“The new force-wide Neighbourhood Policing Command will be led by a chief superintendent, supported by a superintendent, four chief inspectors and a detective chief inspector.
“The four chief inspectors will be aligned to the four local authority areas and lead the teams in these areas.
“Of all our police constable and PCSO posts, 35 per cent will be based in neighbourhoods, 42 per cent will be in the operations command, 19 per cent will be in the Crime Command and 4 per cent will be in the Tasking and Coordination Command.
“This means that we are able to maintain the percentage of officers and staff in frontline roles, a fact supported in the HMIC Value for Money report, where Cleveland has one of the highest shares nationally of police visible and available.
“While the implementation of the model presents some challenges, it also gives us some new opportunities to introduce different ways of working and to draw on best practice from other parts of the country.
“Any kind of change can be unsettling, and we have carried out and will continue to carry out consultation with our police officers and staff, our police partner staff and other agencies that we work with to ensure that people are kept informed throughout the process as well as raise concerns and put forward ideas about the best way to implement the new model.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger added: “The restructure of the force is an operational decision which I know the TCC and her team have been working on for many months.
“Everyone is well aware that the force faces substantial cuts to funding and police numbers and so changes have to be made. However, I have made it clear that, despite these pressures, neighbourhood policing must remain the priority and no local community should lose its neighbourhood team.
“This re-structure will ensure that remains the case. It also establishes a chief superintendent post dedicated to neighbourhood policing.
“I note the assurance from Mrs Cheer that the public will not see any reduction to the service delivered.
“Mrs Cheer is to be congratulated on devising a plan that achieves this under very challenging circumstances. I can assure local communities that I will hold the Temporary Chief Constable to account on this pledge.”
Buy Tuesday’s Mail for further details and reaction.