£1.5m bill as 56 staff go in Staffordshire Police job cuts
STAFFORDSHIRE Police has spent more than £1.5 million on redundancies in just 12 months.
Figures show 56 force staff took voluntary redundancy or early retirement in 2011/12.
Chief Constable Mike Cunningham says a similar number of staff will have to go this year, as the organisation faces £34 million in cuts over four years.
Last year's redundancies cost the force £1,583,896, which was up from £819,000 spent on severance packages in 2010/11.
The figures have revealed two staff received pay-outs of between £80,001 and £100,000, while another two were paid between £60,001 and £80,000.
Ten staff received between £40,001 and £60,000, and 18 were paid between £20,001 and £40,000.
The bulk of those that chose to leave – 24 staff – were paid up to £20,000.
Mr Cunningham said the cash paid out would save money in the long run.
He added: "Given the challenges we face to maintain quality services while being more affordable, our Communities First programme has worked hard to reshape policing services in Staffordshire,
"We've very carefully planned and prepared to put aside money to fund the costs of our change programme and reshape the force.
"Costs included within this fund last year included £1.5 million for voluntary redundancies and early retirements on the grounds of redundancy.
"These are one-off payments which have helped us to become significantly more affordable in the longer-term.
"This year, we're likely to see a similar number of voluntary and early retirement redundancies for those police staff colleagues who have actively requested it.
"Next year though, as change begins to settle, we are likely to see far fewer.
"Fortunately, our planning has meant that we have been able to transform the force without the need for compulsory redundancies.
"While we're making big savings, we're also determined to continue to reduce crime, maintain services and focus on dealing with what matters to local people."
The force currently employs 1,172 police staff and 209 police community support officers.
Following a recruitment freeze and forced retirements under the A19 regulation, which makes officers with 30 years of service leave, the number of police employed by the force has fallen to 1,894, its lowest level since the 1970s.
Michael Shepherd, Unison's Staffordshire Police branch secretary, said the number of redundancies in the past year had been expected.
He added: "In 2009, when we began this process, we knew we had to downsize.
"We believed that to have a workforce that was still happy we must offer voluntary redundancy first.
"We sat down with the organisation and agreed on a sum of money to be put aside to offer voluntary redundancies, which was in excess of £4 million.
"We've not spent half of that yet and we are now in talks to stabilise the situation.
"As much as I hate a single job going, the reality is we had to go to our employer and work out a procedure, and they have stuck to that."