Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Hampshire police plans to cut 1,400 jobs

Hampshire Constabulary plans to axe 1,400 posts - 20% of its workforce - including police officers.

Forces are facing government cuts of 25%, with Hampshire reducing its budget by £70m (25%) over the next four years.

The job losses will see redundancies, positions left unfilled, redeployments and voluntary redundancies.

Unions are to discuss the plans, which will go before the police authority. Southampton MP Alan Whitehead said the government was "letting people down".

The force, which employs about 6,700 staff, also plans to share and sell buildings and increase collaboration with other forces, especially Thames Valley.

'Hands tied'

It had already approved plans to scrap its spotter plane and instead share two helicopters with the Sussex and Surrey forces.

While plans for a new headquarters were put on hold amid the government cuts.

Hampshire Police Federation admitted Chief Constable Alex Marshall was trying to provide a service with his "hands tied behind his back".

Mr Marshall said: "I know all our staff join the constabulary to do the best job they can and that the changes ahead will be difficult for everyone.

"This uncertainty is unsettling and there is a human story and personal consequence every time someone leaves."

No details have been released on the specific number of officers, police community support officers (PCSOs) and staff who face the axe.

Steve Mote, divisional manager for Victim Support Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, said: "At the end of the day, crime is still going to happen and they are still going to be responding to it.

"Police will have to consider how to be smarter and how they can do the best with their resources.

"Our reassurance to victims would be, 'we're still going to be here', and anyone can contact us even if they're not referred to us by the police."

'Dark days'

The plan would see the force restructured with locally-based PCSOs, police officers, special constables and police staff working to a local policing area based around council boundaries.

John Apter, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, said the workforce had "known for several weeks things look very bleak for the future".

"We have been saying that the dark days of policing will come and I am afraid that they have arrived," he said.

Image caption Chief Constable Alex Marshall admitted it was an unsettling time

"These cuts will have a massive impact on policing, especially on visibility."

Mr Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, said: "Bobbies on the beat make us all feel safer in our homes and communities.

"These cuts are just another example of how the Tory-Lib Dem government is letting people down."

Donna Jones, who represents the Conservatives on Portsmouth City Council, blamed the previous government's "financial mismanagement" for the scale of the cuts.

She added: "It is always very sad when any public service is cut, however I believe the chief constable has given it much consideration.

"We can't forget why we are in this position in the first place, because of the financial mismanagement of the previous Labour government which left us such a huge deficit to tackle.

"I do not have a concern crime will rise significantly as I understand the focus will still be on the frontline."

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