Austerity cuts means the force is looking to save £25m over the next four years, but the police and crime commissioner has called for Surrey’s MPs to act on the county being “ill-served in terms of government funding”
19:29, 12 NOV 2015 UPDATED 20:12, 12 NOV 2015
BY ELEANOR DAVIS
Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley (left) with Assistant Chief Constable Gavin Stephens and Chief Constable Lynne Owens
A dramatic change in neighbourhood policing in Surrey will see fewer officers on the streets and hundreds of jobs cut, as cyber crime and other offences rise.
Announcing the ‘Policing in Your Neighbourhood’ model, Surrey Police Chief Constable Lynne Owens said 234 staff members and 32 officers would lose their jobs as a result of the restructure, which is a bid to save £25m over the next four years.
The force is looking to cut 400 roles during that timeframe and staff consultations got under way last week.
Under the new model, set to be implemented in April 2016, targeted patrol teams will be replaced by an area policing team, with a borough inspector responsible for a larger team of uniformed police officers.
There will be a reduction in Safer Neighbourhood teams, from 438 officers to 187, and a reduction of CID officers to 147 from 393.
Neighbourhood policing will be streamlined so that one officer deals with a report from start to finish, unless it is a complex case, and “chronic” cases involving known offenders will be prioritised.
The chief constable said that, alongside cuts, the restructure reflected a change in the nature of crime.
She cited a 153% increase in reports of rape, a 122% increase in reports of sexual offences and a 34%increase in reports of domestic violence – with 50% to 60% of crimes involving a vulnerable victim, witness or offender in the past three years.
Rise in demand
The chief constable said more than 10,000 requests could have been dealt with by a “more appropriate” agency.
Ms Owens also said the force received repeated calls from hospitals.
“We haven’t been able to keep up with the volume of demand,” she said, adding that almost half of sexual offences reported were historical cases.
“As well as dealing with today’s crime today, we are also dealing with yesterday’s crime today.
“As technology has changed, so does our need to respond,” she said.
“You are far more likely to be a victim of crime within your own home than on the streets.”
More officers will take on investigative roles, with the safeguarding investigation unit bolstered from 133 officers to 178 and detectives focusing on vulnerable victims and offenders.
These changes mean that more incidents will be resolved by police over the telephone and referred to other agencies, where possible.
To enable this, more police officers will be moved into contact centres to support the existing staff.
Victims of crime
Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner , Kevin Hurley, slammed Westminster’s approach to austerity measures but said the new model put “really vulnerable” victims first, with women and children set to receive a better service.
“I am politically saying the Surrey members of parliament must do more to bring money into this county,” he said.
“We are ill-served in terms of government funding in this county.”
On visible street policing, Mr Hurley said: “There’s a real pressure now on delivering on that particular point.
“While everyone would like to see more visible policing on the street, the real issue is when you’re a victim of crime, you want the police to do something about it.”
The force is also asking businesses to do more to prevent crime and reminding the public to take steps to keep themselves safe online.
This includes protecting computers and monitoring who children are talking to online and in person.
Surrey Police is also collaborating with the South East Coast Ambulance Service , Sussex Police and Surrey Fire and Rescue Service where possible, to respond to increasing demand for services.
Readers may recall that we covered this shortfall in Police funding back in March when the Police & Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable both responded to our requests for further information.