Suffolk police service 'at risk' in cash cuts bid
SWINGEING cutbacks proposed by Suffolk Constabulary to save �6 million in two years have led to a dire warning from the county's police federation.Matt Gould, the federation chairman, strongly believes more cost-cutting from a force already trimmed to the bone will have a significant impact on the service received by the public.
SWINGEING cutbacks proposed by Suffolk Constabulary to save �6 million in two years have led to a dire warning from the county's police federation.
Matt Gould, the federation chairman, strongly believes more cost-cutting from a force already trimmed to the bone will have a significant impact on the service received by the public.
He said a further slashing of resources - which could include scrapping the force helicopter, a cut in DNA services which helped bring Ipswich serial killer Steve Wright to justice and delaying police officer recruitment - was 'scraping the barrel'.
The constabulary is even exploring the option of reducing the number of frontline officers in two years time.
Mr Gould's doom-laden prophecy comes as Suffolk scoffed at a suggestion by its Norfolk counterpart of merging into a four-county superforce with Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire.
Suffolk's financially beleaguered force is facing the further crushing fiscal burden due to a shortfall in the cash it expects to get from the government.
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Long-term it believes it will have to find savings of �10m between 2010/11 and 2013/14.
The full extent of cutbacks facing the cash-strapped constabulary for the first two of those years are to be discussed at a strategy committee meeting of Suffolk Police Authority on Friday
Among the other proposals it will be discussing is potentially raising �250,000 by charging staff for car parking.
Mr Gould said: 'If you look at the areas they are talking about needing to find savings in, they are really scraping the barrel.
'We are down to the bare bones as it is, so if you go below that it's going below what was seen as safe.
'We are already scraping the barrel for this year and we are expecting similar savings next year, so what are we going to do the following year?
'If you keep cutting down on the number of people we are employing the quality of service will reduce, or the number of things we do will have to reduce.
'To make the assumption that we are going to do things smarter indicates we have not done this before, but we have been working as smart as we can for a long time. We are an efficient force.
'There's no magic wand. We are just going to have to realise it's going to have an impact on the quality and the amount of service.'
Gulshan Kayembe, chairman of Suffolk Police Authority, said: 'They are just proposals until the police authority have an opportunity to look at them and debate them. We can't say we will go ahead. We are in tough times and that means we are going to be having to make some really tough decisions.
'Our first priority will be to always protect frontline services, ensure the quality of policing does not decrease, and Suffolk remains a safe county.'