42 police jobs likely to go

UP to 42 Fife Police staff posts are expected to be cut in the next financial year.

The jobs are likely to be shed between now and March 31 next year as the Force looks to find ways of closing a budget shortfall of almost £4.3 million.

The proposal to reduce police staffing positions by nine per cent will be considered at a special meeting of the police, fire and safety committee today (Thursday).

The move is part of Fife Police’s budget setting with the force expecting a 3.12 per cent cut in funding in line with that given to the local authority.

A joint report - by Chief Constable Norma Graham and Council finance director Brian Livingston - will go before the committee stating that the savings will have to come from areas of the budget which do not relate to the costs of police officers.

But while efforts will be made to make sure cuts impact on non-core services, it does admit that the possibility of overall policing services being affected is ‘inevitable’.

Significant action

The report also stresses that further “significant action” will be necessary to deal with the increasing budget gap.

The report said: “Many police staff are deployed in posts which are critical to the delivery of core services with the potential to impact on call handling capacity and station opening hours.

“A reduction in police staff in these areas has the potential to impact directly on policing with officers being redeployed to backfill core posts.”

The force has been looking at ways to reduce staff numbers while keeping core posts, including voluntary reduction of contracted hours, allowing staff to take unpaid leave and early retirement.

But as well as the 3.12 per cent cut to be made, councillors will hear the force’s cost base will increase by almost £4 million next year as a result of increased costs, progression of staff on pre-negotiated pay scales and other costs.

Fife Labour MSP Claire Baker said: “Cuts to backroom staff are clearly going to have an effect on the amount of time frontline officers can spend on the beat.”