Crime scene investigation cuts 'may affect inquiries'

Crime scene investigators
Image caption Avon and Somerset Police plan to cut civilian staff by 20%

Police would be unable to carry out more than one major inquiry at a time if cuts to crime scene investigators go ahead, a union has claimed.

Between 15% and 20% of the 65 Avon and Somerset Police crime scene investigation staff are set to be axed.

The force says its ability to deal with several major incidents at the same time will not be affected.

A Unison spokeswoman said she thought that was "quite a naive position" to take.

BBC Points West's Home Affairs Correspondent Steve Brodie said Unison claimed that if police were faced with a murder investigation on the scale of the Jo Yeates case as well as a big motorway pile-up, they would not be able to cope alone.

'Difficult times'

Unison spokeswoman Mo Dickson said: "If you're going to cut the number of police staff roles, then in some way or another that is going to have a fundamental effect on the number of front-line police officers that are out on the streets.

"And police forces come into criticism all the time because police officers are just not visible."

The union also claimed the loss of the posts would have a direct effect on crime levels.

In a statement, Avon and Somerset Police said: "These are difficult times for all public services. Avon and Somerset Police are not exempt.

"We must find more than £40m of savings over four years on top of the anticipated £20m we expect to lose each year as a result of the way the government funds police forces."

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