NORTH Yorkshire Police has announced a major change to how it polices the county - with plans to cut bureaucracy and bolster frontline officer numbers by reducing senior posts.

The sweeping overhaul of policing will also include investing heavily in technology such as handheld devices, which will enable officers to remain visible in the community rather than spending time travelling back to stations to fill in paperwork.

The proposals were revealed today (Wednesday) at Fulford Police Station in York where Chief Constable Dave Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan and Assistant Chief Constable Paul Kennedy launched their new Operational Policing Model (OPM).

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Mrs Mulligan said it was a “root and branch” overhaul.

“We have listened to the public’s very clear message to make sure that officers are out and about in the community,” she said.

The chief constable and commissioner have committed to maintaining 1,392 police officers and 183 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) in North Yorkshire, in response to residents’ concerns about officer numbers in a recent police and crime survey.

The force will now review its number of senior officer posts in a bid to make savings and invest in more constables.

Mr Jones added: “A review of supervisory ranks will boost the number of constables by 20 who directly support community policing. We are also reviewing our senior rank structure to ensure it is fit for the future. When completed, the reviews are expected to deliver more than £1m in savings, but we are still investing close to £10m in technology.”

A dedicated cyber crime unit will be set up, which is likely to be up and running by the end of this year, after the crime survey revealed significant concern from parents about their children’s online safety and other offences such as fraud.

Mr Jones said: “That’s a part of the world we need to police. It’s just like walking down the high street. We need offices down that highway too.”

Other measures include reducing the number of custody suits, creating more investigative hubs and providing “significant” improvements to the current service for victims of crime and anti-social behaviour.

The £10m technology investment includes about £1m for an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system, to tackle the large percentage of crimes committed by people travelling into the county. Roughly £3.5m will be spent on handheld devices for officers, which may enable fingerprints to be taken at the side of the road. The force is also considering the introduction of body cameras.

The changes come as police battle to make huge budget cuts. The North Yorkshire force has to make savings of £10m by April 2016.

But Mr Jones stressed: “We’re surrounded by seven other police forces, most of whom have reduced their officer numbers. We’re keen to maintain our officer numbers.”|