Police chief defends rank removal plans

Swindon Advertiser: Chief Constable Pat Geenty Chief Constable Pat Geenty

CHIEF Constable Pat Geenty has robustly defended the force’s decision to phase out the rank of Chief Inspector against ‘unhelpful’ criticism from Wiltshire Police Federation.

Wiltshire Police announced on Tuesday plans to rid the force of various hierarchical levels in a bid make savings of up to £1million and reduce bureaucracy in the face of major budget cuts.

The move is part of a review of its entire structure and could lead to the impending removal of other senior ranks as Wiltshire Police explores ways to meet a savings target of £10 million over the next three years.

Wiltshire Police is one of the first forces in the country to be taking such a step to slash costs.

Although in support of removing unnecessary red-tape, Wiltshire Police Federation hit out on Tuesday for a failure to formally consult its members. It also argued that cutting 20 Chief Inspector posts over the next 18 months would place added pressure on staff.

But Chief Constable Geenty said he was surprised at the federation’s reaction as its members had been made aware of the review in advance. He called their response to the plans protectionist and unhelpful.

“It’s a bit protectionist of them and I don’t think it’s helpful,” he said. “We have discussed the issue with the federation before and it shouldn’t have come as a bombshell to them.

“There are too many ranks and grades and we need to flatten the organisation and make it more effective.

“We will look carefully at the impact that the removal of that rank will have. But we feel that closing or narrowing the levels in the organisation is right. There is no talk of redundancies. The rank will be phased out over 18 months.”

Back in the 1990s, several forces across the country scrapped the rank of Chief Inspector but, after a trial period, soon reinstated it.

The Chief Constable dismissed concerns that such an overhaul might fail once again.

“We have got to look at the change in times,” he said. “The police service is facing massive cuts of £10 million over the next three years. You need to be radical and you need to look at where you can make those savings most effectively.”

He added: “We don’t think the public will notice the removal of the rank. The frontline services are not being touched. We think we can do this. It’s not going to happen overnight but we will try to work with the federation and their concerns.”

All senior ranks, including Assistant Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable, Superintendent and Chief superintendent will be reviewed over the next few months.

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