Cambridgeshire police to bring in 50 more officers but freeze and then reduce number of PCSOs

Chief Constable, Alec Wood, and Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite

Chief Constable, Alec Wood, and Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite - Credit: Archant

Faced with rising crime figures – up 25 per cent in a year- chief constable Alec Wood pledged to hire 50 more police officers from next April.

Mr Wood said: “Our current policing model is no longer sustainable and is hampering our ability to manage our demand.”

His staff were working “long hours and juggling heavy workloads,” he said.

To help fund the increase in new officers, Mr Wood will freeze recruitment of police community support officers.

He said the current equivalent of 126 full-time posts will be reduced by natural turnover to 80.

His policy falls short of axing all PCSO roles that has occurred in neighbouring Norfolk with Mr Wood insisting that every local policing team across Cambridgeshire “will have an identified PCSO in their area.”

He said: “I have had to make the difficult decision to reduce overall numbers of PCSOs.

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“This is in part a financial decision but also an operational one.

“The harsh reality is that given the high levels of demand for police officers with warranted powers - to manage and investigate the increase in recorded crime, arrest offenders and make communities safer - I need to reduce the number of PCSOs and increase the number of operational police constables.

“And I am confident I have struck the right balance.”

Officers and staff affected by the proposed changes will go through a period of consultation over the coming weeks. The final structure will be confirmed in January and the first phase of the model will go live from April 30, 2018.

Mr Wood said: “We remain committed to protecting the most vulnerable people and targeting the most serious offenders. But this means we have to be realistic about what we can and cannot attend, and make some difficult decisions about our future structure.

“We need to acknowledge the changing profile of crime as well as the changing threat and risk to public safety, much of which would have been unrecognisable just a few years ago.”

The new model of policing Cambridgeshire has been designed, he said, using evidence from a review team over the past year. It includes feedback from officers and staff, demand and resource mapping, visits to other forces and a review of existing data from within the force.

Police commissioner Jason Ablewhite said: “There have been some difficult decisions however I believe the new model is the right structure to both maintain neighbourhood policing whilst working with communities and partners to reduce crime.”

Proposed model summary:

• Additional constables to be deployed to the areas of greatest risk and need - frontline, child protection, rape investigation and partnership and operational support.

• Demand Hub – modernises approach to public contact and allows for early and more effective management of demand.

• Creation of single force model split into two areas - allows for more efficient and effective governance and reduced supervisory and senior management posts - committing more resources to the frontline.

• Creation of MET Hub – focusing on Missing, Exploited and Trafficked children to protect those children most at risk of harm and focus on those offenders who target them.

• Increase to analytical provision allowing improved analysis of demand.

• Retention in the role of PCSOs to deliver highly effective model of neighbourhood policing and problem solving. Continued commitment to community safety. This is what communities want.

• Creation of community action teams in the North and South, building on the success of RCAT. These teams will respond to the problems

• Front counter provision retained in every district council area, albeit reducing opening in line with demand.

• Revised shift patterns with improved alignment to demand.

• Reduced number of response bases allowing for maximum efficiency in response deployment.

• Retention of serious and organised crime team, cyber and fraud team, surveillance team to continue to tackle serious and organised crime gangs. Retention of SARC and specialist co-located rape investigators.

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