David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Enquiry desks cuts will keep more officers on the beat, say police

Devon and Cornwall Police had to choose between "front counters and constables", a senior officer said yesterday, as the force announced the closure of more than half of its enquiry desks.

Front offices at 34 stations, manned by civilians, are to close by June next year in a move which will save the force £5.4 million over the next four years. The number of posts will be halved from 120 to 60.

It follows a major review of the service, which Assistant Chief Constable Paul Netherton said revealed falling footfall at its front desks as people increasingly contacted the police by phone or the Internet.

"Over a year ago we began a review of our front offices, what people used them for, what the footfall was, to see how we could improve the service," Mr Netherton said.

"That review was taking place, then half way through we had the comprehensive spending review which added finance and efficiency into the mix."

Mr Netherton said the review had revealed "a dramatic change" in the way people contacted the force ,with 90 per cent of inquiries being made over the phone. Only four per cent of callers at front desks, he explained, were actually reporting a crime.

"The footfall survey showed that a significant number of offices got less than 10 callers a day," Mr Netherton said. "One station, Redruth, got an average of less than two callers a day, which means that each single inquiry cost £95-100."

He said wall phones connecting to the police control room would continue to be provided. Members of the public could also request appointments with officers, or contact them through 'beat surgeries' and public meetings.

In all 34 front counters, mainly in smaller towns, will be closed. Only 23 are being retained – chosen to ensure people are less than 15 minutes away from their nearest front desk – with differing opening times to better suit the demands of the public. .

Mr Netherton admitted that the closures would be "sensitive" issues in the affected communities and conceded that the "onus" was on the force to make sure the public knew how to reach them.

"It is not just about closures," he added. "It is about providing a service which meets modern expectations and changing the way we do business. Do you want someone sitting behind a desk when no-one goes in or do we want them out on the ground, being seen, being visible? Those are the decisions we are having to make to meet the budget challenges."

The office closures are part of a package of measures being introduced by the force to meet budgets cuts of around £47 million over the next four years.

On Friday, the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority, which governs the force, discussed both the closures and implementing a controversial clause which will force officers to retire after their 30-year term of service. Its chairman Mike Bull said: "It makes sense to optimise our opening hours, using the resources available, to better meet local needs and provide in a way that offers best value for money for our communities

Article courtesy of http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/news

Forced Retirement of 700 Police Officers in Devon & Cornwall

Devon and Cornwall Police are to forcibly retire 700 officers over the next four years after invoking a controversial clause to meet a £47 million budget cut imposed by the Government.

Members of Devon and Cornwall Police Authority (DCPA) yesterday approved use of a rarely-used pensions rule which will compel officers to retire after their 30-year standard term of service.

Chief Constable Stephen Otter said it was the only option available if the force was to achieve £47 million in cuts by 2015 – £3 million higher than previously estimated.

He also revealed that civilian job losses will also be heavier than predicted, with an extra 75 posts to be cut on top of the 300 which had already been announced. In all, 700 police officers are to be axed, from the force's compliment of 3,500, reducing the force to levels last seen in 1983. A recruitment freeze is also in place.

The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said that would lead to a "future policing crisis" in which the force didn't have sufficient resources to deal with major incidents.

"We will have less officers able to respond to emergencies in the future," federation chairman Sergeant Nigel Rabbitts said. "The chances are that we will be faced by a number of serious incidents when we are able to resource the first properly but not the second."

Sgt Rabbitts said officers were "disappointed" that the clause – known as Regulation A19 – had been invoked but recognised that the measure that been "forced" by the cuts handed down from central Government.

However, he warned that the blow would hit the frontline hardest.

A report before the police authority showed 100 officers will be forced to retire next year followed by a further 398 by 2015. Another 148 officers who reach the age of 60 over the same period, but have less than 30 years' service, will also go.

Around 60 officers who currently have 30 years service or more are likely to receive 90-day consultation notices early in the New Year and be forced to retire on April 1.

Members spent 45 minutes discussing the move in secret, for legal reasons, before voting overwhelmingly to approve it. They are only to fourth authority out of the 43 in England and Wales to vote for the cost-saving measure.

Chief Constable Stephen Otter told the meeting: "This does raise huge emotions within the force.

"A19 will lead to the loss of some very experienced people that we wouldn't have lost," he said. "But there are a lot who would have retired and we would have lost anyway."

After the meeting, Mr Otter admitted that he had "never felt we could do this without affecting the frontline". But he said the force should be measured on what it delivered "rather than the number of people we have".

He added: "This is not a decision we have made lightly and we have spent a great deal of time considering the options available to us.

"We understand that for those officers who have planned their career around staying with the force beyond 30 years, this will be a very difficult time.

"However, unfortunately when faced with the magnitude of the cuts we have been asked to make we simply do not have other options open to us which would ensure that we could deliver savings over the next four years while still continuing to provide a policing service to the people of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly."

Mike Bull, the DCPA chairman, added: "The police authority deliberated long and hard but fully supports the constabulary's recommendation to invoke regulation A19.

"We are not the first police authority in the country to agree to use this regulation and we believe many others will be following suit over the coming months."

Article courtesy of http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/news

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


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