Police vow to protect teams in face of cuts

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JUST 20 police officers are set to be lost in Sheffield - despite a 20 per cent budget cut being imposed on the South Yorkshire force over the next four years.

That is just 2 per cent of the 887 officers covering the city and district commander Chief Superintendent Simon Torr said there would be no cut to the strength of neighbourhood policing teams, except for the loss of two inspectors because areas are being merged.

Force-wide up to 400 of the force’s 2,500 officers could be axed, according to recently-retired chief constable Med Hughes.

Chief Supt Torr revealed some details of his plans ahead of a presentation to Sheffield Council on Wednesday.

He said: “Although we have to save money, we want to provide the public with the best service and will only be making a small reduction of officers, which is likely to be about 20 from 887 covering the city.

“We have been looking to save money from other changes, such as making our neighbourhood teams more efficient.

“We are changing from nine to seven areas, which are the same as council community assemblies, to save time because, under the current structure, police from one team have to spend time dealing with councillors about issues from as many as four assemblies.”

The number of safer neighbourhood areas (SNAs) will be reduced from nine to seven, but the only reduction to their manpower will be a fall in inspector numbers by the same number. The 19 sergeants and 114 constables on neighbourhood duties will remain.

Under the proposals, still to be approved, safer neighbourhood areas will each comprise four wards with a population of about 70,000.

Chief Supt Torr said: “Throughout the city there is a complex patchwork of community safety meetings. The confused picture is primarily brought about due to changes in government-led initiatives, which resulted in some communities supporting neighbourhood action groups and some embracing police and community together structures.

“This presents considerable burdens on SNA staff and confuses partners as to which meeting sets community priorities.

“A move to seven SNAs, directly with the community assemblies, will better position police resources to take advantage of closer working practices with the wider city resources.”

No further cuts to Sheffield police community support officer numbers are proposed.