Chief Constable Justine Curran (pictured) has responded to this, saying: “Our challenge is to provide 21st century policing in the age of austerity. We are changing to modernize our working practices, make the most of our resources and to meet our statutory obligation to balance our books.
“We have been open from the outset in terms of explaining to our staff and the public that more than 80 per cent of our budget is spent on people and in order to meet the savings requirements of Central Government we will have to reduce by around 500 police staff. We will be a smaller, but more efficient force in the future.
“By stripping out layers of bureaucracy, creating a large flexible team of staff, harnessing new technology and focusing our resources in the areas and at the times of greatest need, we are confident that we can maintain our service to the public and continue to make a real difference in our communities.
“These changes will mean named officers and PSCOs continuing to work in communities, 100 extra officers on shift over any given 24-hour period and detectives working together with neighbourhood officers in our communities.
“Now that we are in the implementation phase of our plans we recognise that this is a very difficult time for our staff. We are working with staff associations to do our best to re-deploy displaced people into new roles in the organisation and to keep compulsory redundancy to an absolute minimum.
“We also recognise some of the changes we are making will impact on our staff in other ways. The change to shift patterns will mean officers and some staff will have fewer weekends off and some of the changes we are making will mean longer travel times to and from work. We know this is difficult and we are doing our best to mimimise the impact. That said, we make no apologies for putting the public first. Our drivers for change are modernisation, efficiency and providing the best possible service – the public must always come first.”