Suffolk Local Policing Review - an update
In December 2015, a series of changes to local policing in Suffolk were announced as part of the Suffolk Local Policing Review.
The Government’s Autumn Statement in December confirmed that police funding was to be protected, improving the Constabulary’s financial position. A reduced savings target has now been confirmed and changes have been further refined, allowing the organisation to retain more officer, PCSO and staff posts than originally planned under the review.
The force’s savings requirement has significantly reduced from £20.5m by 2020 to just under £7.5m by 2020, as a result of the much better than expected funding settlement from the Home Office, and the decision by the PCC to increase the precept by just less than 2% per annum in the next financial year. Of the £7.5m savings target, there are already plans in place to save £6.2m, of which £5m will be delivered in 2016-17. This leaves a balance of savings to be achieved by 2020 of nearly £1.3m.
This changed position has enabled a revision of the local policing plans, retaining a greater number of PCSOs than originally announced and allowing the Constabulary to invest in officers and staff in key areas.
A review of match-funded PCSOs has been carried out to ensure that these posts align with the redefined functions of our Safer Neighbourhood Teams. The PCC has underwritten 12 of these posts to allow discussions to take place to explore opportunities for effective working with these partners in the future. The 12 posts will remain in place until April 2017.
The additional income of £830k generated by the PCC's decision to raise the precept will also help by funding an additional 20 police officers who will be placed in teams dealing with priority crime areas and an additional three PCSOs to work with educational establishments across the county. The improved financial position will also fund an increase of a further ten police officer posts and investment in police staff posts to work in priority areas, such as protecting vulnerable people.
The freeze on police officer recruitment has been lifted for the first time in two years. Police officer recruitment will recommence this year, allowing the organisation to recruit to replace those officers who leave through retirement or natural turnover. Recruitment was ring-fenced for PCSOs and staff members put ‘at risk’ as a result of the review in the first instance. Members of the public will be invited to apply for the roles in the coming weeks. The overall strength of officers will rise to just under 1100.
The re-design of local of local policing will continue, with the new model taking effect from April 2016.
Chief Constable Gareth Wilson said: "2016 is a hugely significant year for the Constabulary, and will see us transform the way we police the county.
"An extraordinary amount of work has gone into understanding how our communities need us today, so that we can provide policing that is right for Suffolk. We have analysed the type of calls we receive and the type of crimes being reported, along with when and how people are choosing to contact us. All of this information, along with the results of consultation with staff, partners and communities, has informed our review and has resulted in a re-design that will allow us to respond in the most effective way
"The context we are working in has changed rapidly since we made our announcements in December, and it is very positive that national police funding has been protected. It is essential that we continue with our plans, however, to enable us to provide policing that is right for today. The improved financial position has allowed us to further refine some of our plans and will allow us to embed the new model without the pressure of significant savings to be found over the next four years.
"The driving force of the review has been the need to modernise and transform and this must continue. I want the Constabulary to be accessible, responsive and effective and I am confident that our new model will achieve this for our communities.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: "A huge amount of time and energy has gone into this review, lots of difficult choices needed to be made and I am pleased that we are now in a position to put the plans into action and future-proof our Constabulary for the years ahead.
"The pattern of crime is changing, so policing must change too. I am certainly confident that we can do this. I have worked closely with the Chief Constable to identify the savings required and introduce the transformational changes to local policing in Suffolk.
"Whilst this is a challenging time for us, it is also an opportunity to make sure we are making the best of our resources, and crucially, identifying the demand we face and responding in the most appropriate way. We have had to make many choices but I can assure you these were not made lightly – and have all been made in the best interests of the people of Suffolk.
"Suffolk Constabulary is a fantastic organisation with a real can-do attitude. I am confident that our plans, made in consultation with the people of Suffolk, will make our county a safer place to live, work, travel and invest.”
Key changes – Updated
- A re-designed county policing map, with 9 localities, each led by an Inspector
- A reduction in the number of Safer Neighbourhood Teams from 29 to 18, located according to demand. (SNTs will be based in: Brandon, Mildenhall, Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Sudbury, Stowmarket, Ipswich West (Landmark House), Ipswich Central (Museum Street), Ipswich East (Heath Road), Hadleigh, Felixstowe, Woodbridge, Leiston, Eye, Halesworth, Beccles, Lowestoft.)
- A revised workforce mix ensuring that the right mix of multi-skilled, warranted police officers, along with community-focussed PCSOs are retained. This will involve a reduction in posts from local policing of: 59 PCSO posts (166 to 107*), 23 officer posts and 13 staff posts**.
- Re-defined roles for Safer Neighbourhood Teams, which will work with partners to deliver local solutions to local problems, focussing on early intervention and prevention.
- A reduction in police station front counters with 3 remaining open in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft to reflect the demand they face.
- Improved processes for the investigation of crime - crime is becoming more complex and more costly to investigate so teams are being realigned and processes are being streamlined to ensure that resources are used in the most effective way to provide the most efficient service to victims and witnesses.
- Emergency response officers will continue to deal with the most urgent calls for service.
- Investment in priority areas where demand has increased, including the investigation of crime affecting vulnerable people.
* including three new PCSOs to work with educational establishments and 12 match-funded posts that will remain in place until April 2017.
**the reduction in staff posts will be less in year 1 than initially announced. Feedback received during the consultation period has led to more station clerk posts being retained in 2016/17 whilst processes for dealing with lost and found property are reviewed and new opening hours are embedded.