Up to 400 police officers could lose their jobs – and eight Milton Keynes police bases could be closed or downsized as bosses bid to save £40million.
Police And Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld has told the Citizen he fears one in 10 officers may have to lose their jobs as the force struggles to cope with another round of government spending cuts.
And he has already produced proposals to close four police offices across Milton Keynes, while downsizing three other stations along with the Olney Police Information Point. This ‘Property asset management plan’ was co-produced with Chief Constable Sara Thornton.
Mr Stansfeld admitted a cull of bobbies on the beat would have an affect on local policing. He said: “Policing is part of the fabric of a civilised country. You can’t continue cutting back.
“You can be more efficient, and you can use technology. You can have a more modern efficient service. But that requires police officers, working on the frontline.
“If these budget cuts are introduced, at the level that’s being forecast, then there will have to be significant reductions in the number of police officers throughout the Thames Valley.”
Mr Stansfeld said that no decisions had been set in stone, but he believes Thames Valley is short-changed in how much funding it gets compared to some other police forces.
He added: “Thames Valley Police have more roads and motorways than any other force in the country, yet we are a very thinly-spread force, and our budget is less per head than the majority of other police forces.
“There are only four forces that serve a larger area, yet they all spend vastly more on policing because they get a bigger grant from the government. We have already saved £60million from our budget, so another £40million is a lot to ask. We are one of the most efficient forces in the country, and so far we have avoided making cuts from frontline policing, with the few officers we have lost going from natural wastage.”
Chief Constable Sara Thornton refused to comment on the plans to close police stations, and said she hoped not to cut staff numbers.
She said: “We have a large shortfall over the next three years and we are working out how we will make these savings.
“We will look to every other possibility before we cut officer numbers. At this stage in planning I can only say that we are highly unlikely to cut frontline officer numbers next year.”