Some of the West Midlands’ most experienced police officers have warned that the public will suffer as a result of dramatic cuts which force them to take early retirement.
Officers who have spent decades on the front line of the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour spoke about their concerns, as they prepared to be forced into retirement this week.
West Midlands Police is to lose 2,200 posts, including 1,000 police officers and 1,200 police staff, as it struggles to find savings of £120 million by 2015.
This has meant invoking a rule called Regulation A19, which allows the force to get rid of officers with 30 years experience.
As a result, many of the most experienced officers will be the first to go. For 175 long-serving officers, Thursday March 31, the end of the financial year, will be their last day of employment with the force.
Sergeant Dave Hewitt is among those going. He has been forced into retirement at the age of just 48.
He leads a team tackling anti-social behaviour, such as dangerous dogs, nuisance neighbours and cannabis factories, with the aim of preventing it from growing into more serious crime.
One recent success involved working with youth services, councillors and parish councillors to tackle the problem of underage drinking on an area known as The Green in Castle Bromwich.
He said: “It makes me smile when the Government claims front-line policing won’t be affected by these cuts. You can’t get more front line than my position.
“We are losing experience and knowledge. You are going to take a big wedge experience out of the force, and it has got to have an impact on the quality of service for the public.