Police force consults staff over jobs axe

A Yorkshire police force has begun consulting with staff over its plans to cut 300 jobs to tackle a £19m budget black hole.

North Yorkshire Police has extended its voluntary redundancy scheme until March and opened talks with the trade union Unison about compulsory job losses.

Police officers cannot be made redundant but the force has already been given approval to make officers with more than 30 years of service retire.

The force estimates it will have to lose between 150 and 200 officers, as well as 300 staff, to balance the books after the Government cut the policing budget by 20 per cent in real terms.

It must save between 9m and 11m over the next two years, and the funding gap is expected to widen to more than 19m by 2014-15.

Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell said the 90-day consultation process, which ends on March 31, would be handled "sensitively and professionally".

"The decision to make hard-working and dedicated members of police staff redundant is one that I had never wished to make," he added. "It certainly is not one that has been taken lightly.

"However, along with every other public sector organisations in the country, we find ourselves in unprecedented financial circumstances which has left us no option but to reduce staffing levels as part of our wider plan to balance the budget come 2014-15."