Kent Police axes 1,500 posts to tackle 20% budget cut

image captionThe Kent Police Federation said losing experienced officers would bring "real problems"

Plans to lose the equivalent of 1,000 staff and 500 officers have been set out by Kent Police as the force tackles a 20% budget reduction.

The force presented a new policing model under which neighbourhood policing would rise by 50% from 800 officers and staff to 1,200.

The Kent Police Federation criticised the move and said losing 500 officers would bring "real problems".

Chairman Ian Pointon described it as "moving deck chairs on the Titanic".

He said: "This is about taking 500 police officers out of Kent, I can't stress that enough.

"This is about a reduction in service. This is about a reduction in the number of police officers. This is potentially about a rise in crime."

'Streamlining support'

Chief Constable Ian Learmonth said the new neighbourhood policing model would bring a "quicker and more efficient response to persistent policing problems".

He said: "It has been an extremely challenging process, and it certainly wont be pain-free as we need to make a 20% budget reduction, which equates to 1,000 staff posts and 500 officers."

Kent's policing model was being fundamentally redesigned by streamlining and rationalising support services and realigning specialist policing, he added.

He said significant savings had been made by running joint departments with Essex Police and this would continue.

'Borderless response'

Under the new policing model, Kent's six policing areas would be reduced to three, Ann Barnes, Kent Police Authority chairwoman added.

The force would operate a "borderless response" system, where the nearest response officer will attend an emergency all even if the call if from a different policing area, she said.

She said the force had set a budget of £288m of which 69% would be funded by the government and 31% by the taxpayer.

"Given the financial challenges now is a good time to take a step back and take a real hard look at how we do business," she added.

"This isn't a knee-jerk reaction to save money but will mean we can continue to ensure a quality policing service in Kent despite the challenges ahead."

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