A King’s Lynn’s senior police officer has moved to reassure residents in light of a major shake-up proposed for the county’s force.
Superintendent David Buckley said the town would benefit from Norfolk chief constable Simon Bailey’s proposal to axe all of the county’s PCSOs, close a number of public enquiry desks, including Downham Market and Hunstanton and shut some police stations, including North Lynn.
The force needs to save £10m by 2020 and Mr Bailey’s proposals would see extra police officer roles, more detective resources and two new investigation centres created, one of which could be at Swaffham.
Since the announcement, more than 2,000 people have signed an online petition opposing the changes and have held a rally.
Of the 160 PCSO roles set to be cut, only 15 are based in Lynn, Supt Buckley said, and they would be replaced by 11 front-line officers “serving the community”.
“The back drop of these changes is fundamentally about modernisation. It’s undeniable that finance plays a part but this is about reinvesting people in the right place.
“That doesn’t in any way devalue the role of PCSOs because we recognise them being seen is key to people feeling safe but, at the same time, we have to balance that with putting the staff in the roles where we need them most to protect the public from high harm offences,” he said.
“With a police officer, we can effectively achieve most of the things we can with a PCSO but other things as well. It is just more adaptable.”
Supt Buckley said he hoped the PCSOs would be able to take up other roles within the force.
“We have the challenge of meeting the gap that the PCSOs going will leave, particularly, where for the last decade, they have been working in the same place and people know them really well.
“Do we intend to give every local estate, every village, a local named officer? The answer is yes we do.
“My plan is to use those 11 officers to spend time focusing on hard high- end crime and really going after the criminals that cause the majority of harm to local people.”
He said while it would be a shame to lose the station at North Lynn, research has shown it to be a “massively underused resource”.
Supt Buckley also said he welcomed investment to improve the main police station in Lynn.
- Next week, Superintendent Buckley talks about how new technology will help tackle crime in West Norfolk.