Terror-fighting marine unit set to be axed as police make cuts in Hampshire

Daily Echo - 23 January 2018

HAMPSHIRE Constabulary is poised to axe 100 officers and 50 support staff in new cost-cutting plans.

Police chiefs aim to save almost £7 million by imposing a raft of cuts which include reducing the number of traffic officers by 20 and trimming the size of the dog unit.

Critics fear the proposed cuts could increase the danger of terrorism and other serious crimes.

John Apter, chairman of the Hampshire Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: “We have already seen the number of police officers slashed across Hampshire Constabulary by almost 1,000.

“These latest cuts to our specialist teams are yet another blow for policing.”

The cuts are due to be debated at a meeting of Hampshire’s Police and Crime Panel on Friday.

Hampshire Constabulary has to save £24 million over the next four years following a series of reductions in the annual amount of grant it receives from the government.

Mr Apter said: “The teams being reduced are critical parts of policing. The way Hampshire Constabulary is funded by the government is unfair and has created a crisis in policing which is getting worse.

“We are told by politicians from all parties that we have the best police service in the world. These platitudes stick in the throat when those same politicians stand by and allow the service they praise to be cut to dangerous levels.”

Asked about plans to axe the marine unit Mr Apter added: “We have one of the busiest stretches of coastline in the country and that presents some difficult challenges, including significant facilities that need to be protected.

“My plea to the chief constable is ‘stop and think’.”

His comments echo those made by sailors in 2015 following a previous threat to the unit’s future.

Speaking at the time a spokesman for the Seafarers’ Sailing Club in Hill Head said: “It is important to know that the police are out there providing a safe environment for us all and we would be disappointed if the unit was dissolved.

“They are our bobbies on the beat and we need them.”

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