Cambridgeshire Constabulary has announced proposed plans to create a new policing model for the county which will include an extra 50 police officers but a cut by a third in the number of PCSOs.
In July, Chief Constable Alec Wood and Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite raised concerns about the level of demand facing policing and the pressure it was putting on the force’s control room, frontline and investigations.
Last year the force commissioned the Local Policing Review, tasked with designing a model that would deliver a demand-led and victim-focused service which provided much needed support to the frontline.
The proposed policing model will see:
• Funding for an additional 50 police constables to support frontline policing, including response and investigations.
• The force balance its budget over the next four years by delivering the necessary £3.1m savings.
• No new intakes of PCSOs. The 126 FTE (full-time equivalent) head-count will be reduced by natural turnover with a commitment to retain a minimum of 80 FTE posts. Every resident across the county will be able to access their local policing team and have an identified PCSO in their area.
Chief Constable Alec Wood said: “Despite the recent ‘good’ grading by HMICFRS for efficiency, our current policing model is no longer sustainable and is hampering our ability to manage our demand. Like forces across the country, Cambridgeshire faces an unprecedented workload and, as a result, officers and staff are working long hours and juggling heavy workloads.
“We remain committed to protecting the most vulnerable people and targeting the most serious offenders. But this means we have to be realistic about what we can and cannot attend, and make some difficult decisions about our future structure.
“The focus of this review and the proposed model is putting more officers on the frontline to enable us to provide the public with the best service possible. This structure will enable us to fund an additional 50 officers which will make a huge difference to the people of Cambridgeshire.
“We need to acknowledge the changing profile of crime as well as the changing threat and risk to public safety, much of which would have been unrecognisable just a few years ago. We also need to deliver a policing model that makes the best use of our finances, which in real terms are reducing.
“We remain committed to providing neighbourhood policing and to working with communities and in partnership to reduce crime and to make them safer through effective problem solving. Every resident will be able to contact their local policing team and have a PCSO for their area.
“This said, I have had to make the difficult decision to reduce overall numbers of PCSOs. This is in part a financial decision but also an operational one. The harsh reality is that given the high levels of demand for police officers with warranted powers - to manage and investigate the increase in recorded crime, arrest offenders and make communities safer - I need to reduce the number of PCSOs and increase the number of operational police constables. And I am confident I have struck the right balance.”
The proposed model has been designed using the evidence gathered by the Local Policing Review Team over the past 12 months. This includes feedback from officers and staff, demand and resource mapping, visits to other forces and a review of existing data from within the force.
Mr Ablewhite said: “I am wholly supportive of the constabulary’s proposed local policing review. The pledge of an extra 50 constables will help us respond effectively to the changing face of demand, whilst maintaining our commitment to neighbourhood policing. I know a great deal of work has gone into delivering this review and am satisfied that, with the strong leadership team the force has in place, the new model will be able to meet the challenges ahead. There have been some difficult decisions however I believe the new model is the right structure to both maintain neighbourhood policing whilst working with communities and partners to reduce crime.”
Officers and staff directly affected by the proposed changes will be going through a period of formal consultation over the coming weeks. The final structure will be confirmed in January and the first phase of the model will go live from 30 April 2018.
Proposed model summary:
• Additional constables to be deployed to the areas of greatest risk and need - frontline, child protection, rape investigation and partnership and operational support.
• Demand Hub – modernises approach to public contact and allows for early and more effective management of demand.
• Creation of single force model split into two areas - allows for more efficient and effective governance and reduced supervisory and senior management posts - committing more resources to the frontline.
• Creation of MET Hub – focusing on Missing, Exploited and Trafficked children to protect those children most at risk of harm and focus on those offenders who target them.
• Increase to analytical provision allowing improved analysis of demand.
• Retention in the role of PCSOs to deliver highly effective model of neighbourhood policing and problem solving. Continued commitment to community safety. This is what communities want.
• Creation of community action teams in the North and South, building on the success of RCAT. These teams will respond to the problems and challenges. These officers will be deployed as a result of routine detailed analysis of community intelligence, information and incidents to ensure that they provide an effective policing response to those local issues, prioritising those causing greatest harm to communities.
• Front counter provision retained in every district council area, albeit reducing opening in line with demand.
• Revised shift patterns with improved alignment to demand.
• Reduced number of response bases allowing for maximum efficiency in response deployment.
• Retention of serious and organised crime team, cyber and fraud team, surveillance team to continue to tackle serious and organised crime gangs. Retention of SARC and specialist co-located rape investigators.