AROUND 2,500 more police jobs are set to be axed over the next five years under £130million of West Midlands force cuts.
The cuts will affect neighbourhood policing in Coventry and the wider region.
The force has this week announced a review of neighbourhood policing, with more than 80 per cent of its operating budget goes in pay to its workforce.
The force says the cuts are necessary because of ongoing unprecedented government cuts in funding to police forces, which started in 2010 as part of plans to eliminate the national deficit.
Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson and West Midlands MPs have long complained the cuts unfairly affect the West Midlands, relative to better-off counties in the South East.
Coventry Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson is among those who believe the cuts are jeopardising the force’s ability to tackle crime.
The force says the review of neighbourhood policing – called the West Midlands Police WMP2020 change programme – will result in the organisation being smaller than when it was formed in 1974.
Chief Constable Chris Sims said: “By 2020 West Midlands Police will have reduced by almost 45 per cent over a decade.
“I am confident that policing will continue to protect the public, but how services may look and be delivered will have to alter – both to respond to the financial challenges we are facing and to new and growing threats like child sexual exploitation and online crime.”
In addition to policing in communities, the force said the review is initially examining how the police should respond in future to calls from the public, and how they are investigated.
The force states there will still need to be “a critical mass of warranted police officers to deal with the full range of policing challenges across the West Midlands.”
It adds: “There will be a limit as to how far critical areas of policing such as call handling and forensics managed by police staff can be reduced without impacting on safety or the ability to investigate crimes.”
The force says police community support officers (PCSO) numbers – until now unaffected by cuts – could reduce at a faster rate than officers and other police staff.
Mr Jamieson said: “Neighbourhood policing is key to our relationships with communities.
“However, in the face of growing pressure on our services, the force will have to look and feel different to respond to crime in the future.
“I support the professional and thorough approach the chief constable is taking.”