CAMBRIDGESHIRE police is ahead of target with its budget cuts – and is planning to strip a further £3million from the middle and senior management payroll within the next 12 months.

Chief constable Simon Parr has identified the savings to protect the frontline and insists “the public should not notice a difference”.

There are no details yet as to which posts will be lost, but the restructuring will include a new Chief Inspector for Huntingdonshire, Chris Mead.

The chief constable identified the night-time economy in Huntingdon as a particular area of concern, and said the chief inspector would be looking to work with licensing authorities and landlords to reduce the number of violent incidents. Speaking at the constabulary's Hinchingbrooke headquarters on Thursday (December 8), Mr Parr said: “Cambridgeshire invested heavily in senior management over the past five or six years to drive up performance, and the time is now right to reduce those levels of supervision.

“If I can take the money out of senior management to keep frontline police, then I will.”

But he warned any further budget cuts from central government would hit frontline policing. The force currently has to save £17m over five years.

Savings totalling £1.6m have been made in 2011, against a target of £1.14m, and £4.3m of next year's £5m target has been earmarked. That includes £2.5m in staffing costs – mainly because of a recruitment freeze, £200,000 in utilities, and £1.6m from an efficiency drive on goods and services.

The force took on 29 new constables in October, and would be looking at recruiting 20 more in the new year, said Mr Parr.

Restorative justice – allowing offenders to make amends to victims for low-level crime – has been used to deal with more than 1,000 offenders in 870 crimes since April, freeing up around 8,000 operational hours.

Many of those hours have been deployed in uncovering drug offences, with figures rising by nearly 50 per cent on last year because of improved detection.

Mr Parr added an appointment system for non-urgent calls – and “early and clever planning” hadhelped police find the savings without seriously impacting performance.