‘No clear picture’ on new structure

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A SENIOR union official has stated the restructure of Notts Police will have a “detrimental effect” on public safety in the area.

Plans will see the force reduce from four to two divisions as the authority look to save £36m over the next four years.

Dave Wakelin for Christmas message

Dave Wakelin for Christmas message

The current system will be scrapped and replaced by city and county basic command units from 1st April.

Worksop will be policed by a county-wide division rather than being monitored under the current Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood (B-Division).

Police Federation chairman Mick Taylor said the extent of the reshuffle is as yet unknown but expected rural areas to feel the brunt of the changes.

“My concern with Bassetlaw is that whenever resources get stretched, it is always rural areas that suffer most.”

“There is a big demand in cities for policing which would leave the outer communities with less cover.”

“We do not know what it is going to mean for neighbourhood policing, we have not have not had that information yet.”

“The water is murky, there is no clear picture at the moment.”

“There is going to be a detrimental effect on the public,” he added.

They currently employ around 2,500 officers and 80 per cent of the force’s budget is spent on paying wages of officers and staff.

The force is set to lose 84 experienced officers - including one from Bassetlaw - under section A19 of the Police Pensions Regulations 1987, which was accepted by the Police Authority in December.

The move will reduce the wage bill in excess of £5.3m.

There is also a current freeze on recruitment.

Mr Taylor said: “We lost 117 officers last year and are expected to lose a further 80 odd this year, which causes some concern.”

“We don’t know what we are planning for yet so we may lose more than the amount we think we are going to lose.”

“And it is not like cheaper officers are coming through the door, there is no damage limitation because recruitment has been frozen.”

“There are some real concerns.”

The restructure was approved by the Police Authority in October following consultation across the county.

Chf Spt Dave Wakelin has been confirmed as divisional commander for the county, with Spt Richard Fretwell expected to take charge of operational policing in the north of the county.

“Neighbourhood policing is the key to making communities safer and building trust and confidence with the public,” said Chf Spt Dave Wakelin.

“That won’t change under this new structure.”

In the past months he has had responsibility for two of the county’s territorial divisions – Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood and South Notts and late last year he stated staffing cuts were “inevitable” in light of the financial constraints the constabulary faced.

Figures released in December showed a 15 per cent reduction in crime across the county, with B-Division down 19.6 per cent on 2009.

Chair of the Police Authority Jon Collins said the force and the authority remained firmly focused on reducing crime even further, despite the budget savings.

“We are delighted that the reductions in crime in Notts are twice that of anywhere else in the country, although we accept we have started from a high base and have some way to go.”

“However, we have every confidence in the senior management team to continue to drive down crime whilst working in partnership with the Police Authority and other organisations.”

Other changes will see Spt Paul Anderson take on a performance and partnerships position and Spt Mike Manley given the crime portfolio in the county.

Chf Spt Simon Nickless, currently divisional commander for Mansfield and Ashfield, will be the new divisional commander for Nottingham city. He takes over from temporary Chf Spt David Walker who will take on a partnership role as a superintendent in the city.

The roles will be taken up from 1st March.

Chf Constable Julia Hodson said: “Reshaping the way we deliver operational policing is absolutely the right thing to do in light of the challenging financial circumstances we face.”

“I am confident that this new structure will remove layers of duplication that exist across the force, while preserving and enhance neighbourhood policing and performance.”