CUTTING jobs, selling police stations, sharing functions with other forces and even a crime-tracker smartphone “app” are just some of the measures Cambridgeshire police has pinpointed to save money.

CUTTING jobs, selling police stations, sharing functions with other forces and even a crime-tracker smartphone “app” are just some of the measures Cambridgeshire police has pinpointed to save money.

Forty-five jobs have already been lost this year, and a further 81 will go by April 2012 as the force looks to bridge a funding shortfall of nearly £17million over the next five years.

Chief Constable Simon Parr said yesterday (Tuesday) that cuts would affect all parts of the force, but that the police authority was looking at measures to improve efficiency, and minimise disruption to front line service.

Cambridgeshire already has the fifth-lowest net spending per head of population out of the country’s 43 constabularies, and faces the prospect of dealing with population growth in Cambridge, South Cambs and Peterborough in the next 10 years.

Without the option of making police officers redundant – which is forbidden by law – the constabulary is putting a halt on recruitment, and researching how the profile of the force would change over coming years without new blood.

Mr Parr has highlighted an improved use of technology as a key step in increasing the efficiency of Cambridgeshire’s officers.

That could even include a smartphone app where victims can keep up-to-date with the enquiry’s status and receive text alerts – saving the need for an officer to call them – as well as adding and responding to information as the investigation progresses.

“I’m aware of the emotional difference in handling cases like this, so it will not be for serious offences,” Mr Parr said. “When people order something from the internet, they are able to track their packages, so why not track their crime investigation?”

Other time-saving proposals include equipping officers with laptops and printers, allowing them to type witness and victim statements straight away and log as much information as possible without the need to return to the station.

As well as putting a halt to major capital projects, the authority is also looking at a “redesign” to rationalise the force’s buildings across the county and changing how the public come into contact with police.

That would involve splitting up the three main functions of police stations – front office, back office and custody – and selling off obsolete property

Mr Parr said: “We’re already working very closely with local authority partners to see if there’s any way we could share front-counter space, and have one front-facing building that we share.

“There are some police stations across the county that are no longer where the public need them, if towns have grown, it may be that there is an opportunity for the authority to dispose of those police stations, because we don’t need them where they are, as we grow over time.”

The pooling of back-office functions, including human resources, payroll and pensions, with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire will also deliver savings.

Negotiations are under way already over how to carve up the departments, which will lead to further job losses in the next two to three years.

“It’s a case of looking at how we close the gap in operational hours that we have,” said Mr Parr. “I would rather lose jobs from that part of the organisation, than lose police officers from the front line.”