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Changes to Suffolk’s policing model get the go ahead

PUBLISHED: 20:50 06 September 2018 | UPDATED: 20:50 06 September 2018

Suffolk police are appealing for information following an incident of indecent assault in the Woolverstone area Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk police are appealing for information following an incident of indecent assault in the Woolverstone area Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Plans to cut Suffolk police community support officers (PCSOS) by almost half while growing the county’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams has been given the green light.

Gareth Wilson, Chief Constable of Suffolk Police.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNGareth Wilson, Chief Constable of Suffolk Police. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A consultation on the proposals for changes to Suffolk’s policing model closed on Monday, September 3.

The plans, which have now been given the go-ahead, include reducing the number of PCSOs from 81 full-time equivalent posts to 48.

More than 100 officers are also set to move to Safer Neighbour Teams.

The consultation aimed to give staff a chance to challenge and suggest alternatives to the proposals.

The four were later released under investigation (police stock image) Picture:SARAH LUCY BROWNThe four were later released under investigation (police stock image) Picture:SARAH LUCY BROWN

However, chief officers decided the plans would go ahead unchanged.

Chief Constable Gareth Wilson said: “I fully accept this news will come as a disappointment to affected staff.

“In addition to our own internal consultation we have listened and responded to councils and other interested parties across Suffolk and we will continue to engage with them to ensure we remain responsive to the ever changing demands we face.

“Our PCSOs have carried out excellent work across the county and I am confident that this work will continue, but this will be focussed on preventative work and supporting multi-agency interventions addressing high threat and high demand local issues. “The combination of PCSOs, police officers and police staff in the right roles and locations will ensure that we continue to deliver a high quality service to our communities.

“I do not under-estimate the impact this change programme has had and continues to have and I have been impressed by their professionalism throughout the consultation period and this has been reflected in the constructive feedback submitted from both UNISON and affected staff.

“The Constabulary will continue to support our staff sensitively through the next steps and I remain committed to finding every opportunity to retain our staff through redeployment within the organisation.

“I am confident that the changes will add to the visibility of police officers to our communities and as I have said many times before, local policing is the bedrock of our service, and the decisions I have taken to move additional officers into this area reflects this commitment.”

The changes are expected to come into effect on Monday, October 29.

Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “As I meet people across the county their message to me comes through loud and clear, they need much greater visibility and I’m pleased to say we have listened.

“This revised local policing plan will see an extra 104 police officers moving into the Safer Neighbourhood Teams from October this year. In order to do this some police roles have been civilianised, officers have been moved from central to local teams and regrettably the number of PCSOs will now reduce, but the outcome will be more police officers in local policing. I would much rather there was no reduction in PCSO numbers because I’ve seen at first hand what a valuable contribution they make to keeping Suffolk safe but we have to live within our means.”

Mr Passmore added: “As I said when the plans were announced earlier in the summer, I will be monitoring the impact of this new model to ensure the people of Suffolk are getting the police service they deserve.

“I will also continue to lobby for fairer funding for the constabulary as I believe the root of our financial challenge lies with the huge unfairness of the funding from the Home Office which is why I will do everything possible to alter this injustice.”

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