Assurances over police reform

Police Safer Town Team Insp Tony Quinn.
Police Safer Town Team Insp Tony Quinn.

FRONTLINE policing in Scarborough will not suffer as a result of a money saving restructure – that was the message from the town’s senior police officer.

North Yorkshire Police have been forced by the government to save £8.9 million in the next financial year, and £24 million by 2014/15.

To fall into line with the cuts, the force has embarked on a huge operational restructure, which is being launched today by Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell.

It will see the abolition of two of the three Basic Command Units in North Yorkshire, with one Basic Command Unit now overseeing the whole of the county.

Response units at Scarborough Police Station, which previously dealt with urgent unforeseen incidents, and Safer Neighbourhood Teams, which dealt with more persistent problems, will also be merged into one.

The teams of officers, who will have responsibility for one of three geographical areas of Scarborough, will be overseen by nine neighbourhood sergeants.

The number of neighbourhood sergeants in Scarborough is increasing from three to nine.

Inspector Tony Quinn, who will be in charge of the neighbourhood sergeants under the new structure, said he hoped the system would offer more flexibility.

“The main point is we are not losing any officers and we are not losing any PCSOs,” Insp Quinn said.

“The neighbourhood constables and PCSOs will remain where they are. The major change is that there is one team.

“Sergeants and constables who were on the response team have not been required to build up geographic knowledge in the past. The majority are looking forward to getting to know their communities better.

“The savings have been made by reducing the numbers of supervisors across the force. Scarborough is a busy place with high seasonal demand. I am pleased that we will now have more staff than we currently do at peak times.”

The increase in staff levels at peak times has come as a result of a change to police officers’ shift patterns which is another part of the review.

PCs will now work shorter daily hours but have fewer days off, this change coming at the same time as other proposed changes to police officer working conditions is something Insp Quinn admits has not been universally popular among the rank and file.

“I think some do feel aggrieved, because we feel we are doing a very good job and don’t deserve some of proposed reductions in pay and conditions. Scarborough has been improving for a lot of years now from a policing perspective.

“However we have to recognise it is not just the police that are being forced to accept changes. It is something everyone in the public sector is having to deal with.”

Another scheme which is being piloted in Scarborough is the booking of appointments after non-urgent incidents, rather than aiming to send officers to the scene immediately.

“I think that will deliver a better service,” Insp Quinn added. “Control room staff will identify less urgent calls and will arrange a convenient time for officers to attend.

“It will be less frustrating for people as we will not have to cancel. They’ve been trying it out in York and it’s been very successful there.”

A review of police support staff in North Yorkshire is still ongoing.

Chief Constable Maxwell said: “North Yorkshire Police is committed to providing a police service in which the public has trust, confidence and satisfaction. Despite significant financial cutbacks we will continue to provide a service that is accountable to our local communities and which is responsive to their needs, and one that is relentless in its approach to reducing crime and increasing the safety of our citizens.

“Our delivery structure over the past few years has proven very successful. However, as most residents will be aware, we have to keep up the fight against crime with fewer resources.”