Cuts leave police morale ‘on the floor’

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FEWER police on the beat and slower reponse times could be the “worse case scenario” if Lincolnshire loses 130 officers because of spending cuts.

The stark warning comes from the chairman of Lincolnshire Police Federation, who says morale among staff is on the floor after “attacks from all sides” on officers’ pay and conditions.

The county’s constabulary is facing cuts of £20m from its budget over the next four years, while a new report out last week recommended other cuts across the country which will erode officers’ pay and bonuses.

Some officers could see their annual pay slashed by up to 20 per cent.

Stuart Hamilton said: “The Winsor report will mean a pay cut across the board and when you consider the Hutton report as well it just feels like an attack from all sides.

“Morale has been massively affected because people are concerned at the prospect of finding that they may be working an extra 10 or 11 years when they signed up for 30 years.

“When you take into account the physical and mental issues that go with being a police officer it’s purely about money, not the people.”

Mr Hamilton said the latest report raised issues of trust with the Government, as those who already work within the police service had signed a contract on pay and conditions which could be changed with “a single sweep of a pen”.

He said that although there are good people within Lincolnshire police working hard to ensure the effects on policing are kept to a minimum, there is no way the force will be able to maintain the current level of service if 130 posts are lost.

Mr Hamilton said: “Lincolnshire only has 1,200 officers. I am fed up of hearing that we will be able to provide a better service after these cuts. We can’t and we won’t because it’s just not possible.

“You can’t take away 130 officers from a county this size and provide the same service.

“There are people trying to work out the best deal for the people of Lincolnshire but we will have less officers to police the streets, less people to provide services and it will affect response times and the number and type of incidents we can attend.

“When it comes to burglary victims being sent fingerprint kits, people will be horrified as I am horrified.”