Nottingham

Nottinghamshire Police civilian staff strike over cuts

Nottinghamshire Police control room
Image caption Unison claims nearly 750 jobs are at risk but a senior officer called the strike "extremely disappointing"

Civilian staff at Nottinghamshire Police have staged a 24-hour strike in protest at cost-cutting measures.

Police officers were drafted in to cover for control room workers as at least 119 members of staff joined the walkout, according to the force.

Unison has criticised the force's restructuring plans, accusing it of making staff needlessly redundant.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Ackerley called the action "extremely disappointing".

He said 999 and non-emergency calls had been answered quickly, adding: "We had asked Unison to allow our control room staff to be exempt from industrial action due to the critical nature of the work they do.

"They would not agree to that. Consequently we have put police officers into that role."

Among those taking part in the strike were PCSOs, custody and detention officers, front counter and 999 control centre staff, said Unison.

'Heavy heart'

Members are also being asked to work to rule from 31 August until further notice.

The first stage of the force's restructuring has already been completed with up to 170 civilian staff jobs lost, although more than 150 are said to have been achieved through voluntary redundancy.

Unison said the decision to strike was taken "with a heavy heart", but claims the second phase will see "up to a further 746 police staff jobs at risk of redundancy".

Regional organiser Roger Young said: "It's not about the redundancies in themselves, it's about the way they're doing it.

"We feel that they're wasting resources and potentially identifying people to be made redundant who otherwise would not be so and they may have claims against the force."

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Media captionUnison's Ben Priestley says strikes among police support staff are exceptional

The force has accused the union of scaremongering and said no decisions on future job cuts had been made.

It said the union had agreed to the restructuring policy in October, and amending the process now would be unfair to some staff.

Mr Ackerley said: "We are extremely disappointed it has come to this as we believe industrial action will not benefit police staff, the organisation or ultimately the public of Nottinghamshire."

Speaking earlier, he said the force would take steps to mitigate the impact of the action, and that it would continue to "respond swiftly" to 999 calls.

"Early indications are that all the people in our custody areas have turned in for work and that nine people out of the control room have withdrawn their labour, that's out of a total of 29 thus far", he said.

"We have contingency plans for all eventualities because we are an emergency service.

"So at the moment all of our critical functions are being completed but there may be front counters that don't get opened and maybe some of our PCSOs that won't be on the beat."

Nottinghamshire Police, which has about 1,750 civilian staff employees, intends to cut £46m by 2015.

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