Suffolk Police lifts freeze on recruitment for first time in two years

Gareth Wilson and Tim Passmore ANL-151223-122947001
Gareth Wilson and Tim Passmore ANL-151223-122947001

Suffolk Police are looking to recruit an extra 20 police officers and three PCSOs after announcing an improvement in its finances.

A better-than-expected funding settlement from the Home Office and the Police Crime Commissioner’s decision to increase the council precept have meant the force has to save less money from its budget than first thought.

A freeze on officer recruitment has now been lifted for the first time in two years allowing the force to replace officers who leave.

The number of police officers in the county is set to rise to just under 1,100.

Chief Constable Gareth Wilson said this year would be hugely significant for the constabulary.

He said: “An extraordinary amount of work has gone into understanding how our communities need us today, so that we can provide policing that is right for Suffolk.

“We have analysed the type of calls we receive and the type of crimes being reported, along with when and how people are choosing to contact us.

“All of this information, along with the results of consultation with staff, partners and communities, has informed our review and has resulted in a re-design that will allow us to respond in the most effective way.

“The context we are working in has changed rapidly since we made our announcements in December, and it is very positive that national police funding has been protected.

“It is essential that we continue with our plans, however, to enable us to provide policing that is right for today.

“The improved financial position has allowed us to further refine some of our plans and will allow us to embed the new model without the pressure of significant savings to be found over the next four years.

“The driving force of the review has been the need to modernise and transform and this must continue.

“I want the Constabulary to be accessible, responsive and effective and I am confident that our new model will achieve this for our communities.”

The money Suffolk Police needs to cut from its budget has significantly reduced from £20.5 million by 2020 to just under £7.5 million by 2020.

Of the £7.5 million savings target, there are already plans in place to save £6.2 million of which £5 million will be delivered in 2016-17.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “A huge amount of time and energy has gone into this review, lots of difficult choices needed to be made and I am pleased that we are now in a position to put the plans into action and future-proof our Constabulary for the years ahead.

“The pattern of crime is changing, so policing must change too.

“I am certainly confident that we can do this.

“I have worked closely with the Chief Constable to identify the savings required and introduce the transformational changes to local policing in Suffolk.

“Whilst this is a challenging time for us, it is also an opportunity to make sure we are making the best of our resources, and crucially, identifying the demand we face and responding in the most appropriate way.

“We have had to make many choices but I can assure you these were not made lightly – and have all been made in the best interests of the people of Suffolk.

“Suffolk Constabulary is a fantastic organisation with a real can-do attitude.

“I am confident that our plans, made in consultation with the people of Suffolk, will make our county a safer place to live, work, travel and invest.”