Policing in Burnley could be stretched to the limit as county chiefs face up to the daunting prospect of £73m. in cuts and a loss of more than a thousand personnel.
The measures include losing 165 police officers and 275 police staff posts, taking the eventual predicted losses since 2009 to 1,250 people.
Lancashire’s two most senior policing figures outlined the huge financial challenge and admitted that any further Government cutbacks would be difficult to address.
In some of the most radical changes ever to policing nationwide, Burnley’s police force will come under a new Eastern Division as officers are cut and forces merged.
Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw and Chief Constable Steve Finnigan must find £73m. over the next four years as a result of the Government’s austerity measures. They agree that if the Government was to ask for further savings then this would be extremely difficult to find.
Mr Grunshaw said: “We have already saved £40m. and these latest changes will take the savings to just over £60m. which still leaves a gap of around £13m. to be found.”
Mr Grunshaw said he wanted to be “honest, open and transparent” about the decisions they needed to make and asked residents for “patience during this transitional period”.
The changes in operational and support services have identified £20m. in savings which will come from a wholesale restructure of the force, which involves reducing the number of territorial divisions from six to three.
Mr Finnigan said: “What has been really important throughout this review is that we minimise the impact on frontline and visible policing but with nearly 700 police officers fewer, we cannot leave those areas untouched.
“We are facing our greatest challenge and most radical changes in over 30 years and yet we want to reassure all our communities that, despite these cuts, we will continue to deliver the high quality policing services that this Constabulary is known for.”
Mr Grunshaw added: “I want to reassure Lancashire people that to keep them safe, especially the most vulnerable, remains our priority.
“I would like to ask for residents’ patience during the implementation of these changes and pay tribute to officers and staff for the way they have continued to deliver high standards with fewer resources in these difficult times.”