Devon and Cornwall Police Authority approves £47m cuts

Plans to cut Devon and Cornwall Police budget by £47m over have been approved

Devon and Cornwall's Police Authority has approved plans for budget cuts within the force which could affect up to 1,200 jobs.

The plans will see the force cutting £47m in its spending over the next four years. It currently has an annual budget of about £257m.

Under the proposals, up to 700 officer posts and 500 civilian support staff posts face being cut.

Unions for officers and civilian staff said any cuts would affect policing.

The reduction from about 3,500 officers to around 2,800 will see staff levels cut to those of 2004.

'Unwelcome place'

Officers who have more than 30 years of service could be forced to retire.

Other savings proposals include closing inquiry offices at some police stations.

Members of the authority said during the budget meeting, at Middlemoor, near Exeter, that they were unhappy to approve the changes but had little choice because of cuts in central government funding.

The authority also ruled there was to be no rise in council tax to fund the police over the next 12 months.

Chairman Mike Bull said the authority was in "an unwelcome place" with "no other choice".

"We've got to make the books balance," he told BBC News.

Chief Constable Stephen Otter Chief Constable Stephen Otter said there has had to be a "radical rethink" about policing

After the meeting, Chief Constable Stephen Otter said it would be "difficult to say" what impact the cuts would have on crime rates and public safety.

He said: "We've had to have a completely radical rethink about the way we provide our policing service, but we think we can actually maintain the level of visibility with less people out on our streets.

"It's really important for the public to know that the force is going to do absolutely everything it can.... to continue to bring offenders to justice."

But Karen Williams, from the union Unison, said the reality was that as some roles disappeared police officers would potentially have to come off the beat to provide those services.

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