Switch of Wiltshire police staff puts jobs at risk, says union
Updated 8:58am Thursday 23rd January 2014 in By Jill Crooks, Devizes area senior reporter
Unison in Wiltshire is fighting plans to transfer 215 civilian police staff to Wiltshire Council.
Wiltshire Council and the county’s police force announced last summer that to save money a partnership would result in some administrative staff transferring to the council.
But Unison say staff and the public have not been consulted on the move and it fears that if the staff are transferred to Wiltshire Council they face uncertainty over their jobs as Wiltshire Council continues to cut costs.
Unison lobbied the Home Office to stop the transfer but the objection has been rejected.
Nick Maslen, Unison branch secretary at Wiltshire Police, said: “The awful prospect of Wiltshire Constabulary losing some 215 of its staff to Wiltshire County Council has just come a step closer.
"If the Home Secretary goes ahead to confirm these ill thought out plans, the people of Wiltshire will suffer the loss of experienced police staff whose job it has been to keep our communities safe.
“At no point during his election campaign did the Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner (Angus Macpherson), who is behind these plans, come clean with local people over his plans to cut police resources.”
The staff who will be transferring include the force’s professional standards department, which investigates police corruption, specialist driver and firearms training and staff vetting. The transfer does not include staff who answer calls in the control room.
Mr Maslen said the staff are “unsettled and worried” and said the plan was flawed.
Mo Dickson, Unison regional organiser for Wiltshire Police, said: “The Wiltshire PCC’s plans to transfer over 200 police staff to the local authority put the public at risk at a time when the police service is trying hard to reassure communities that it can protect them from crime and disorder.
"No other PCC in the whole of England and Wales is proposing to break up their police force in the way that is happening in Wiltshire. The people of Wiltshire deserve better than this and Unison will go on campaigning against this dangerous loss of police resources.”
In a statement Wiltshire Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for Wiltshire and Swindon said they are working with Wiltshire Council in developing a strategic partnership.
They said this strategic partnership is in line with the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan and the intention of sharing ‘back office’ functions was within his election manifesto.
The statement said: “It is about public agencies working more closely together to provide the best possible services to the public and to work in the most cost effective ways, in light of substantial public sector budget cuts and ever increasing demands for services. It is also a necessary step to help protect frontline policing.
“Work has taken place to scope ‘back office’ or support service departments for sharing services between Wiltshire Police and Wiltshire Council. Service definition documents have been produced by the relevant heads of departments and staff engagement is on-going.
"The OPCC has submitted proposals to the Home Secretary Theresa May around the transfer of police staff to the council.
“The OPCC and Wiltshire Police are aware of objections raised by Unison and has responded to their concerns, within which they reassure that regular consultation by both Wiltshire Police and the OPCC will continue with Unison.
"The OPCC and Wiltshire Police has written to the Home Office and we await a response.”
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