Published: January 30, 2014
134 police officer jobs to go in Avon and Somerset Police shake-up

More than 130 police officers are to be axed across the Avon and Somerset force area as part of cost-cutting measures.

Nine custody suites are also to close this year, which could impact Burnham-On-Sea, the constabulary announced on Wednesday.

The cuts come as the force looks to save £8million in 2014/15 and critics fear some towns could be hit hard.

Some 134 police officers will lose their jobs over the next 12 months – 61 of them police constables – and more could go next year after Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said it will have to save £12-15million in 2015/16.

It is not yet known which towns will be hit the worst but Ms Mounstevens said the job losses are significantly lower than she first feared.

In total, the force has to save £42million over the next four years to keep in line with the latest Government spending review.

It is also looking at making savings by closing 'middle-sized, under-used' stations, said Chief Constable Nick Gargan.

Mr Gargan said: "We are cutting down but we are cutting down in a different way because our workforce has told us there’s a different way to do it. We know there will be further cuts ahead."

Custody suites will be closed as a new multi-million pound operations base opens in Bridgwater this year. It means people arrested in Burnham could be taken south to be held.

He added: "There are some difficult decisions ahead but we’ve built an Operating Model solution so we’re better placed to find savings now and in the future. So, if it’s a question of closing some police stations, or sharing a base with a council and keeping more officers on the streets then difficult choices will have to be made."

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said she was "very supportive of the Constabulary's approach" but would be "closely scrutinising the model".

"In reviewing the way they operate they are putting local people first and ensuring policing is responsive to demand," she said. "The programme will deliver savings which are required over the next two years."

Kevin Philips, chairman of the Avon and Somerset branch of the Police Federation, said: "I understand why people may be concerned about crime fears because cuts are invariably going to affect services. Whichever way you look at it the numbers are shrinking."

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