New Kent Police chief constable says jobs could go

The new Chief Constable of Kent Police has said the force faces major budget cuts and no police jobs are guaranteed.

Ian Learmonth, 52, who has only been in the role since Monday, was outlining his policing priorities.

He said understanding what the budget reductions for the force were likely to be was his biggest challenge.

"Depending on the size of the budget restriction it may well be that we need to reduce the number of people that we have within the force," he said.

At present, the force has 3,794 police officers and 3,175 police staff, including police community support officers.

Mr Learmonth pledged that the "front-end service of delivery" would be protected, although it might mean the force had to deliver its service in a slightly different way.

"I won't give a guarantee on protecting any numbers, whether it's police officer numbers or whether it's police staff numbers.

"We really need to look at the whole issue of what we've got and how we use it," he said.

The Home Office has said police forces will have to "bear a fair share of the burden" as part of the government's priority to cut the budget deficit.

"Frontline services will always be what matter most to the public. Our aim is to cut bureaucracy so that police can spend more time on the beat," a spokesperson said.

Mr Learmonth moved to the county from Norfolk Police where he was deputy chief constable.

'No merger plans'

He has been a police officer since 1976 and served at two other forces before joining Norfolk.

He was appointed in May to take over the role from Michael Fuller, who has become the chief inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Learmonth said there were no plans that he was aware of to merge the police forces in Kent and Essex as a single entity, despite the recent collaboration on certain services.

"Clearly we are working closer together in certain areas - in the serious and organised crime area for example - allowing us to be more effective and use our resources in a more efficient way.

"We will deliver local policing to Kent with local Kent officers," he said.

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