Chief’s jobs pledge as budget cuts hit force

Fife Police'police car'flashing lights
Fife Police'police car'flashing lights

FIFE’S chief constable has assured councillors every option will be looked at to protect frontline police posts as the force looks to cut costs.

But Norma Graham stressed that no decisions have been made yet after 250 civilian employees were told their jobs could be at risk following the notification of a 90-day consultation period last month.

The decision to send out letters sparked a war of words with councillors who viewed the staff as their employees - and there were calls for the process to be halted.

At last week’s meeting of the police, fire and safety committee, Mrs Graham said she was committed to minimising any job cuts.

Fife Police has had to find large savings in its budget and salaries make up 89 per cent of its expenditure - civilian staff account for 19 per cent.

Natural wastage won’t produce enough savings so other areas have had to be considered including disposing of buildings which are no longer required.

Budget review

Members were told the number of jobs which would go would depend largely on the Government’s comprehensive spending review which was due to be announced this week.

Although no specific numbers could be given, there could potentially be 30 redundancies in 2012/13.

The worst case scenario could see as many as 150 staff facing the axe if the budget is slashed by five per cent.

Mrs Graham said cutting frontline police officer posts was not an option.

She said: “I can’t reduce frontline police numbers - my hands are tied, but when looking at making savings we have to be practical. Before considering any workforce changes we have to let people know.”

Deputy chief constable Andrew Barker said another option of maintaining a visible police presence on the streets would involve reducing the number of higher paid senior ranking officers.

Hardest decision

He said: “Issuing the consultation notices to staff was one of the hardest decisions we have had to make because these people are delivering day in, day out for the people of Fife.

“I have spent an inordinate amount of time in assuring staff that we have not made any decisions yet.

‘‘I can assure you I am doing everything possible to protect police staff jobs.”