Norfolk Police Commissioner plans office cuts to protect frontline officers

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Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner has announced plans to slash his office budget by 30 per cent in a new bid to protect frontline services.

Although five staff are being made redundant as part of the reform of Stephen Bett’s office, the commissioner says he believes the move is necessary because of the financial crisis the force is facing.

In June, the force’s chief constable, Simon Bailey, warned that up to 350 jobs would have to go, including around 120 officer posts, in order to save more than £20 million over the next four years.

Mr Bett said: “It was only right that I look at the commissioner’s office and drive out efficiencies.

“The new staff structure is leaner and more closely matches my priorities and those of the people of Norfolk.”

Mr Bett said the changes will allow an extra £1.4 million to be spent elsewhere up to 2018. Senior officers have been asked to draw up plans to keep more officers on the beat.

Mr Bett said: “I am determined these savings will make a difference and go at least some way to helping ease the huge financial burden the force is carrying.”

Meanwhile, Mr Bett is due to present his draft annual report to the county’s police and crime panel on Friday.

Ahead of the meeting, panel leaders have called for clarification from the Government over the rules by which commissioners could temporarily leave their posts.

Mr Bett did just that in June, pending the outcome of an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into allegations about his expenses claims.

But he returned to work last month, amid conflicting legal advice over whether he could leave the post or not.

Panel chairman Alec Byrne said: “In our view, the legislation is not clear and does not go far enough to allow representatives of local communities to exercise a robust response to commissioners’ proposals and to hold them to account as constituents would expect.