England

West Mercia Police likely to lose 1,030 staff by 2015

More than 1,000 jobs are likely to go at West Mercia Police by 2015, research by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has revealed.

The force said it was facing a £34m budget cut over the next four years and has proposed shedding 366 officers.

It has already agreed to form a "strategic alliance" with Warwickshire. Both will retain chief constables accountable to their authorities.

The figures were supplied by West Mercia Police to HMIC last month.

Up to 574 civilian police staff could go, along with 90 PCSOs.

The HMIC said overall, there would be more than 30,000 fewer police jobs in England and Wales by March 2015.

'Accumulated reserves'

West Mercia Police and its authority began planning in 2009 to make "considerable" savings and changes to policing services, a spokesman for HMIC said.

"As part of this programme, they have already reduced the number of non-frontline police officers," the spokesman said.

"They have also used carefully accumulated reserves to cushion the impact of the comprehensive spending review (CSR) budget reductions.

"This has given them extra time to redesign how they deliver service to their communities in a way that ensures continued performance and sustainable savings."

A West Mercia Police spokesman said the budget cuts were "a significant challenge" as 82% of the force budget relates to the cost of employing people.

'No final decisions'

Although jobs will be cut, the force will try to ensure the losses are minimised and that people are treated fairly, he added.

"It is important to recognise that the HMIC projections, for West Mercia's workforce at end of March 2015 compared to end March 2010, were indicative at the time we were talking to the HMIC and were estimates because no final decisions had been made.

"It was also before our police authority agreed to enter a strategic alliance with Warwickshire Police."

Confirming the alliance last month, Warwickshire and West Mercia said they had agreed recommendations that would enable them to meet the challenge of reducing policing budgets.

The recommendations would enable both forces to "provide greater operational and organisational resilience".

The framework had been signed off, but the detail was still to be worked out, they added.

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