Hundreds of police jobs to go

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HUNDREDS of police jobs will be axed in the next five years as Government cuts take hold, a report has warned.

The scale of the £2bn funding reduction across police forces nationwide has been revealed with 34,000 fewer police jobs expected across England and Wales by March 2015.

The two forces in the Mail area will lose more than 1,000 force workers in that time and Peter Race, chairman of Cleveland Police Authority, has warned of “very tough challenges and decisions” ahead.

Cleveland’s officer numbers are expected to drop from the 1,724 employed in March last year to 1,500 in 2015. Police staff will fall from 711 to 253, with those lost said to be outsourced to private partner Steria, and PCSOs will fall from 193 to 183.

In Durham Constabulary 1,507 officers will become 1,315, staff will drop to 618 from 920 and PCSO’s will fall from 175 to 166.

The figures have been estimated by force chiefs as part of an ‘Adapting to Austerity’ report by HM Inspectors of Constabulary (HMIC).

Both forces were praised in the report by HM Inspector Roger Baker for their “understanding” of the situation.

But Mr Race claims his force’s funding reduction of £24m over four years will see officer numbers go down to the minimum needed.

He said: “Through a wide range of measures, including releasing as many officers as possible from back office functions, we believe that we can maintain front line services to the public despite an overall reduction in numbers.

“The minimum number of officers required to maintain the quality of service is, we believe, 1,500. But as the cuts start to become increasingly severe over the next few years maintaining that level will be tough.”

Durham also faces a £24m cut over four years.

Peter Thompson, chairman of Durham Police Authority, said: “We acted early to minimise the impact of likely future funding cuts but this is nothing new in Durham.

“This demonstrates the continuing responsibility of the police authority to represent the public and achieve the best value for money while maintaining an effective policing service.”

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has criticised the extent of the job losses, calling them an “irresponsible gamble with crime and public safety”.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg admitted the cuts would be “incredibly difficult” but said every effort would be made to try to reduce their impact.