Top cop roles will be ‘stamped out’ and placed ‘back on the frontline’ during a massive shake-up to save Cheshire police almost £8m in just a year.

Cheshire Constabulary is in consultation with staff whose jobs may be at risk following the new budget which sees a 5.1% drop in Government funding.

But despite the planned cuts more police officers will be on the beat, with 131 officers taken out of their office jobs and placed back in local stations by March next year.

Eleven of the Constabulary’s top rolls, including Chief Superintendent and Chief Inspector, will be ‘stamped out’ through roles not being filled on retirement and some officers being moved back into local policing teams.

Speaking to the Chronicle, chief constable Simon Byrne revealed plans for the coming year following the budget announcement.

He said: “After a number of years of austerity we are still taking money out of the services that do not affect people.

“The flip side is we are stamping out some senior police roles. When this is finished there will be 11 fewer heads in these roles that constitute the service’s reorganisation.

“We will recruit more police officers. The number of officers on the street will increase by 53 people – the number of police staff will go up by 14.

“It might mean at the end of [the consultation process] people decide to leave as they might not like what is being offered.”

The budget

This is the fifth consecutive year the force has faced cuts to its budget from Government funding – since 2010 its spending power has dropped by 20%.

Police budget reductions (net)

Cheshire PCC

Cheshire Constabulary’s total budget for 2015/16 stands at £161,938,693 (net) – a reduction from £165,333,009 (net) last year. A redundancy reserve has been put aside of £2.4m.

And the force is preparing for more cuts in the coming years, with a predicted funding gap of £36.4m by 2019/2020.

Investing in bricks and mortar

But despite the massive cuts Mr Byrne – who while at the Met aimed to close 200 stations after saying no one visited them any more – said the force planned to modernising eight police stations, mirroring the redesign of Ellesmere Port Police Station making them more ‘welcoming’ for members of the public and ‘open plan’ to work in.

“It is like if you do not paint your window frame it will fall to bits,” he said, adding Northwich would be among those renovated.

“We have over 40 buildings across Cheshire, we need to do this so we don’t let them fall down around our ears.”

Further investment will be made in the force’s fleet, with 50 cars for the road policing team, armed vehicles and ‘crime cars’ being fitted with cameras to help catch criminals red handed.

But Mr Byrne would not comment on whether the force would remain in British cars, saying he wanted cars that were efficient and could be serviced in the local area.

The force is also investing in technology to improve efficiency on the beat and have more people in the call centre to take information from bobbies at crime scenes.

"We don't know what's around the corner"

Due to the ongoing Government cuts people in Cheshire will pay an extra £3 a year towards policing – with an almost 2% rise in the police’s share of a Band D homeowner’s annual council tax bill.

But Mr Byrne admitted that the cuts to top roles, through retirement or moving back to the local neighbourhood policing teams, would not solve all the problems, but that the cuts would ‘fill the coffers’ and the force was prepared for future cuts.

“We do not know what is around the corner, but we are pretty confident,” said Mr Byrne, who was sworn into the role in June last year, and said the force had forward planned for the next five years, but could not know what would happen with the General Election just around the corner.

“This is part of the ongoing journey the public is on; in a sense the amount was not a shock to us. It’s not like this came out of the blue.”

Terrorism and Tasers

Mr Byrne said: “We have given staff a lot of advice concerning how to protect themselves from an attack, but I will not reveal any details as by publishing what we decide to do may give the other side an advantage.”

In light of the Police Federation vote for all frontline uniformed officers to be offered a Taser to provide protection from terrorists, Mr Byrne categorically said that Tasers would not be issued to all officers, and would not be given to PCSOs as they do not have powers of arrest.

“Before the threat level changed we had already done some work issuing more Tasers to police and front line staff.

“In big towns like Chester with drunk people while you are trying to make an arrest, and in more rural parts of Cheshire where you can be quite far away from another officer, it is about giving the officers confidence.”

Forensics "punches above its weight"

And as for the calls from MPs, including MP for Ellesmere Port Andrew Miller, that cuts in forensic services risk serious mistakes being made in criminal cases, after the national Forensic Science Service shut in 2012 and forensic services were moved in house.

Mr Byrne said: “I am confident we have good forensic service [in Winsford] that punches above its weight.”
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