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By Ian Dipple Thursday 10 January 2013 Updated: 11/01 09:28
A TOTAL of 200 police officers will be lost across West Mercia and Warwickshire over the next four years under plans unveiled by the police and crime commissioner.
Bill Longmore has set out his vision for policing up until 2017 in his draft police and crime plan, which in the face of government funding cuts will see 140 police officer posts go in West Mercia and 60 in Warwickshire. Another 450 police staff posts will be cut across the two force areas. The figure could rise further if the Government announces more spending cuts in future years.
But the plan does set out provision to increase the number of special constables - volunteer police officers - and to ensure PCSO levels do not fall below 200.
Both forces have joined together to form an alliance which will save £31million up until 2016 by sharing back office functions, removing duplication of services and directing resources into frontline policing. The alliance is in response to a three per cent cut in Home Office funding by 2015.
Mr Longmore said as far as possible he would not be forcing PCs to retire or making PCSOs redundant and expected the majority of posts to be lost through retirement or promotion to new ranks.
"The biggest challenge is the spending reductions we face. However, our plans to work with Warwickshire should help the maintenance of service standards despite these," he said.
"After listening carefully to local people during my time in office and during my election campaign I will endeavour to protect police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) from redundancy and will introduce a minimum level of PCSOs. While I do expect staffing reductions over the next three to four years, the alliance will allow these reductions to be kept to a minimum."
Taxpayers are also being asked whether they would accept a two per cent increase in the police portion of the council tax from April, despite the Government offering £800,000 a year over the next two years to the force to keep bills on hold.
The rise would add £3.64 a year to the average band D bill from April, but would allow about 30 police officers and 60 PCSO posts to be maintained beyond 2015/16.
The full plan is available to view online at www.westmercia-pcc.gov.uk and Mr Longmore and West Mercia Police Chief Constable David Shaw are holding a live webcast on January 15 when people will be able to email in their questions to firstname.lastname@example.org from 2pm and receive responses.
People are also being asked to comment on if they would accept a two per cent increase in council tax by emailing email@example.com or writing to Mr Longmore at OPCC West Mercia, PO Box 487, Shrewsbury, SY2 6WB.
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