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Northumbria force to shed 1,100 police jobs in budget cuts

Richard Moss | 17:30 UK time, Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Police officers on the beat.

All our forces face budget cuts but say they will protect front-line policing.

The full scale of the cuts affecting our police forces is gradually being revealed.

Northumbria Police have now said they expect to shed hundreds of jobs over the next two years.

They plan to lose 318 officers and 825 civilian jobs by March 2013.

That is around 9% of its officers, and a startling 40% of its civilian workforce - all part of a savings package of £57m.

But despite that, the Temporary Chief Constable Sue Sim believes she can actually improve the service on offer to the public.

She says they can redesign the force to avoid any cuts to front-line policing, and continue to reduce crime.

And she also insists that the force will be just as capable of launching a big operation like the Raoul Moat manhunt even with fewer officers and resources.

She insists that isn't spin or just a brave face, but a genuine opinion based on the reviews she has been doing of the force.

But can that really be right? If cuts on this scale can be done without affecting the service to the public, might it suggest our forces have not been running anywhere near as efficiently as they can?

Temporary Chief Constable Sue Sim

Northumbria's Temporary Chief Constable Sue Sim insists her force can improve its service despite the cuts.

And yet no Chief Constable is admitting to that.

And North East Labour MPs certainly don't buy that argument.

The Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell - a former Home Office minister - says he cannot see how the front-line can be maintained with such big cuts.

He understands the force has to do what it can to mitigate them, but he fears losing so many support staff also risks bogging officers down with administrative work.

Other forces too are having to slim down substantially.

Cumbria Constabulary is losing 100 officers, and 235 civilian staff to save £7.5m this year.

Cleveland Police are also due to lose 230 officers in order to save £17m over the next two years.

Durham and North Yorkshire will also lose officers and civilian staff.

All the forces say the front-line will be protected as much as possible.

And they want to reassure the public that they will still be looking to cut crime.

The Home Office is also confident that the cuts can be delivered successfully with via co-operation between forces and other efficiencies.

But you can bet the Opposition will be watching closely to see if our forces really can do more with less.

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