HUNDREDS of jobs are under threat at Northumbria Police as the force makes £34million of cuts.
The axe hangs over 450 roles but the force has pledged to protect police officers and community support officers, with the jobs cuts coming from its civilian staff.
It is believed that further cuts may be announced later this year and fears have already been raised about the effect the job losses will have on fighting crime effectively.
Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, who sits on the Home Affairs committee, predicted tough times ahead for the force.
She said: “This will inevitably make a difference in our communities. While I’m pleased that Northumbria Police have been able to protect front-line jobs as much as possible at this point, with the recruitment freeze and uncertainty around the future of CSOs, there will inevitably be a reduction in front-line services.”
Coun Mick Henry, chairman of Northumbria Police Authority, added: “Northumbria Police Authority has been planning for change and we are reviewing everything we do to ensure resources for operational policing are maximised during the next few years, which will be very financially challenging.
“However, we have to find considerable savings over the next four years and this means we need to look at all options available to us. This includes inviting police staff to apply for voluntary redundancy.
“We will continue to work closely with the Chief Constable over the next few months to ensure that frontline services are protected and Northumbria Police continues to provide policing services local people want.”
A recruitment freeze has already been put in place and the force aims to reduce the workforce as much as possible through natural turnover.
Police staff have also been invited to apply for voluntary redundancy and to take advantage of other flexible working arrangements to help save cash.
This includes options such as part time or reduced hours working, job share, term time working and retirement options.
Temporary Chief Constable Sue Sim said: “I am absolutely committed to maintaining frontline policing and the services we offer to our communities.
“I will protect as far as possible the number of neighbourhood and response officers who work direct with the public.
“Northumbria is a high performing force and we will not compromise our excellent standards nor falter in our determination to continue to reduce crime and anti social behaviour.
“We will continue to listen to local people, ask them what their concerns are and deliver a service that meets their needs and addresses local problems.”