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Hertfordshire Police Crime Panel discuss PCC David Lloyd's job cut plans
Plans to cut more than 130 police officers and staff from Hertfordshire Constabulary were discussed in public last night.
The police and crime commissioner, Councillor David Lloyd, is proposing to freeze the budget precept for 2013/14 while making £6.3 million of spending cuts.
The anticipated loss of 60 police officer posts and 76 police staff posts during the next financial year, were discussed at the Hertfordshire Police Crime Panel yesterday evening.
Councillor Roger Seabourne, representing Three Rivers District said: "No one is happy with any cuts as such, but we’re aware of the pressures and savings that have to be made and I’m hoping they’re made in the least painful way.
"The one thing which caused me to sit up and take note was when the commissioner said one of the reasons to make cuts is because the crime rate is falling.
"He said if the number of Tesco customers drops by 40 percent, you need fewer check-out staff.
"Someone asked if the crime rate increased, would he employ more officers, and he said they hoped it wouldn’t come to that.
"One of the reasons the rate has dropped is because we have so many police. There’s a cause and effect problem there which I’m not sure he totally understands."
Mayor of Watford Dorothy Thornhill represented the town at the meeting said: "I’m less worried about the cuts than you might think, because within the council we have reduced the head count without affecting services.
"I’m more concerned about how safe Watford feels to people, I asked the commissioner how he was going to consult with residents.
"Hertfordshire is a very safe county, and Watford is a very safe town, with the exception of the town centre, it’s all relative."
Mayor Thornhill said she was glad to see a large turnout of members of the public.
She added: "I’m really glad people made an effort. I’m not convinced the panel has a lot of teeth but by holding the meeting in public we can at least shine a spotlight on the commissioner.
"The whole point of the role was to put the commissioner on the side of the people."
Bushey representative councillor Morris Bright said: “I am pleased to see David Lloyd kept to his manifesto – he promised he would freeze the precept – and last night he agreed to this.
“The fact that he was the chairman of the Police Authority means he knows how finances work so he is not presenting a budget he does not understand about.
“Considering he was elected in the middle of November so only had a number of weeks to get this together is quite impressive.
“He assured us he is acting in the best interests of police and residents to keep Hertsmere safe.”
A percentage of the officer posts lost will be from crime investigation roles, which is losing £350,000 from its budget, while savings will also be made in intelligence support, in the control room and through collaboration with other forces.
A further £1.8 million of savings is to be made from slashing back office functions including HR, ICT, estates and finance, areas that could be outsourced to a private company.
Councillor Chris Lloyd said: "We are a low crime county with effective police action to catch criminals and maintain low crime levels.
"This has been due in part to a consistent approach built over a number of years; I have no wish to disrupt that."