Force defends drop in police officers

POLICE chiefs have denied the thin blue line is getting thinner in Suffolk after new figures revealed it was the only force in East Anglia to cut officer numbers last year.

POLICE chiefs have denied the thin blue line is getting thinner in Suffolk after new figures revealed it was the only force in East Anglia to cut officer numbers last year.

Cash-strapped Suffolk Constabulary say a “challenging financial backdrop” has lead to 28 police officer posts being lost in the last year.

This is compared to Norfolk, which employed 91 new officers and Essex, which has an additional 100 officers. Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire have also added to their force.

According to Suffolk's deputy chief constable Jacqui Cheer, the majority of these 28 police officer posts have been filled by civilian staff, which is “more cost effective”.

She said: “It means fewer officers behind desks, greater visible police presence on our streets and freeing up officers to take jobs that make best use of their skills and training.”

Gulshan Kayembe, chairwoman of the Suffolk Police Authority, echoed her points.

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She said: “The key point is that those posts which have been lost will not be noticeable to the general public. If anything we have a greater police presence.

“This is part of civilianisation and makes sense. Why have police officers tied up doing jobs that a civilian can do?

“Probably because of our financial situation we have been quicker to look at recruiting civilians than our neighbouring forces.”