PLANS are on the table to axe CCTV operators and police support staff from Sunderland’s Gill Bridge station.
The Echo understands the jobs of those monitoring the city centre are under threat in the face of £46million cuts that could also see the closure of the city centre police station.
The proposals were discussed during a meeting of senior officers from Northumbria Police earlier this week.
While police chiefs insisted no decisions had been made, they confirmed to the Echo that staff were “currently receiving briefings” in relation to the matter.
Among those affected are staff who carry out administration and file preparation work, as well as those who organise ID procedures and CCTV operators.
In January, the force announced restructuring plans that involved losing 230 members of police staff, as well as reducing senior police officers by 200, closing ‘expensive’ police stations, and reducing the number of ‘area commands’ from six to three.
Under the restructure, Sunderland and South Tyneside would form one area command, with a main office based in South Shields; closing Gill Bridge.
Deputy Chief Constable Steve Ashman said: “In January, we announced the force was facing further cuts to funding. Despite this, efforts have been made to protect neighbourhood policing and the officers and staff who patrol our communities. This is what the public tell us they want.
“We are committed to maintaining the highest policing standards but we have to make changes to the way we work and the services provided in order to meet the additional savings.
“We also announced that there is a proposed reduction of up to 230 police staff posts, which we aim to achieve this through natural turnover wherever possible.
“All staff are currently receiving briefings outlining the proposals for their area. This is not the start of formal consultation and I would stress that these are proposals at this stage.
“The proposals have been carefully considered and the reduction of these posts will be accompanied by the delivery of our services in a different way.”
Dep Chf Cons Ashman insisted the proposals would not mean the end of CCTV surveillance in the city.
He added: “We work closely with Sunderland City Council to keep the city and surrounding areas as safe as possible. Together, police and the council will still have access to CCTV in and around the city 24 hours a day.”
A spokesman for the Police Federation said: “We support the chief constable in his efforts to maintain visible policing.
“If that results in moving staff from police stations then it’s unfortunate, but that’s what has to be done. There will always be a police presence in Sunderland city centre and a CCTV presence in Sunderland.”