POLICE CHIEFS in Lancashire have denied claims they are to axe jobs as part of a restructuring of the force, a move that includes the possible loss of a number of experienced police dog handlers.
Dog Handlers have been e-mailed via the police system notifying them that they will have to re-apply for their jobs when budgets are recalculated this spring. It is understood staff are concerned about the safety and welfare of police dogs if cuts were to take place.
However, a force spokesman said although many of its future plans had been scuppered by the failed merger with neighbouring Cumbria, planned by former Home Secretary Charles Clarke, and it would need to restructure some areas, no jobs would go.
The spokesman said: ‘Lancashire Police is a consistently high performing force, but is increasingly stretched in its capacity because of new threats and increased demand, particularly in important areas of its protective services, protecting vulnerable people, counter terrorism and serious and organised crime.
Our proposed merger with Cumbria Constabulary would have gone a long way to addressing these issues, but in light of its failure, we have had to take action to find ways to close the gap in some of our key services.
‘We need to identify areas for change which will enhance our protective services, but which will not impact negatively on other key priorities for us like neighbourhood and response policing.
‘By looking at how we are currently structured, we have been able to identify ways in which we can do that. One of these is around the number of dog handlers we have which we are proposing to reduce.
‘This does not mean officers are losing their jobs, it means we are reshaping the dog handling service to free up more officers to work in some of the more under-resourced aspects of our business.’
Forces across the UK are said to be in danger of losing frontline officers as part of Government cuts. Reports suggest budget constraints could mean some forces, including Durham, Sussex and North Yorkshire, could each lose as many as 100 officers in the next year.
This is far from current Home Secretary John Reid’s pledge that there would be ‘more police on the streets’ to fight crime. If the trend continues, it could also mean fewer police dogs too.