By Ian Dipple Friday 01 February 2013 Updated: 04/02 11:49
WEST Mercia Police will begin recruiting officers again from April after it announced planned cuts to numbers had happened quicker than expected.
Police and Crime Commissioner Bill Longmore revealed earlier this month 140 police officers would go over the next three years with reductions achieved through people retiring or moving on to other jobs and not being replaced.
But the process has happened faster than anticipated, meaning from April 1 the force will end a ban on recruitment put in place about two years ago. It does not mean the force will increase officer numbers again but will take on staff to replace those who do leave to ensure numbers do not drop below a certain level.
Mr Longmore also announced he would only be cutting 51 CSOs, instead of the original 100, and would be keeping the police's share of the council tax bill on hold, after more than two thirds of people said they wanted to see a freeze.
As part of a major restructure, mainly focused around sharing support services with neighbouring Warwickshire Police, about £21million will be cut from West Mercia's budget by 2015/16, with the loss of 250 police posts.
Mr Longmore said the force had made better than expected savings in previous years and had enough money in reserve to keep council tax down and alter some of the original plans put forward.
"I am also in discussions to further enhance our neighbourhood watch schemes and to further develop the Special Constabulary, providing opportunities for the creation of local teams where Special Constables can serve the local communities in which they live."
The plan will also involve the closure of police stations or the sharing of buildings with other public services. The Standard revealed two weeks ago how one option being considered in Redditch could see the relocation of the current Grove Street station and a possible link-up with the fire service.
Mr Longmore said proposals would be put to the public to consult on in the near future.
A £2million Community Safety Fund has also been created to support organisations and people involved in preventing crime and supporting victims. Local policing teams are being restructured to form new Safer Neighbourhood Teams and changes made to the way they operate so they have the most impact.
"I do not expect any reduction in the service people receive when they call for assistance or in the level of support or protection from harm people rightly expect," Mr Longmore added.
The proposals will be put to the Police and Crime Panel for consideration on Tuesday (February 5), before the plan is finalised in March.
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