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Cuts begin to bite; Work goes to outside agencies.

Byline: JAMES MOORE

POLICING cuts have seen vital paper work switched to outside staff.

Northumbria Police is expected to reduce its workforce by more than 1,200 posts as Government cuts take effect.

The force has already said a recruitment freeze as a result of pounds 34m of Government cuts will see a reduction of more than 160 officers over the next year.

But senior officers believe th1is could rise to at least 450 officers going.

Civilian staff redundancies are expected to reach more than 400 in the first year, but this could double to 800.

And as redundancies take effect, it has left civilian departments, such as those that transcribe police interviews for court, short-staffed. As a result they have had to outsource work to an external company to keep up with the backlog of work on a temporary basis.

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Jim Campbell said it was a short-term measure due to the Voluntary Redundancy Scheme. He added it was more cost-effective to purchase short-term administrative support than to pay overtime until the department could be fully staffed again.

But a police source raised concerns, saying such roles should be carried out internally.

The source said: "I would question whether it is a good idea to let staff leave and then be forced to have to pay another company to do the work instead.

"The quality of work could suffer as a result and it is important everything is accurate so cases don't collapse when they come to court." Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Jim Campbell said: "Last year we launched a series of business reviews to look at ways to streamline services and improve value for money while continuing to maintain and improve the visible policing services we deliver to our communities.

"One of the ways we will achieve greater efficiency is to centralise our tape transcription unit.

"The possibility that staff might wish to take advantage of a Voluntary Redundancy Scheme was taken into consideration throughout the planning process and factored into the efficiency programme.

"Northumbria Police has a longstanding contract with an external company to provide additional support with functions such as tape transcription when required, and it is more cost-effective to purchase short-term administrative support than to pay overtime to cover the interim period or prevent those wishing to take voluntary redundancy from doing so."

CAPTION(S):

THIN BLUE LINE Jim Campbelll said it's a temporary move, and right, Northumbria Police officers on parade
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 18, 2011
Words:410
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