Police put temporary end to serious and organised crime team

CAMBRIDGESHIRE police has temporarily suspended its serious and organised crime team and its economic crime unit as a result of trying to balance its books.

Deputy chief constable John Feavyour said the officers from both departments had been switched, temporarily, to handle a number of murder inquiries.

He also disclosed the call handling performance in relation to non-emergency and 999 calls has been below target for a number of months.

“Work continues to identify how to ensure the appropriate numbers of available staff are on duty to meet peak demand,” he said.

Staffing levels in the public protection department had led to a backlog in handling domestic violence reports “in other than the highest priority cases”.

Mr Feavyour said: “The reduction of six to four detective superintendents in the investigations directorate has frustrated a number of areas of policy development whose impact would clearly not be felt in the short term.

“The reduction of major investigation teams has necessitated the temporary suspension of the serious and organised crime team and the economic crime unit in order to support of number of homicide investigations.”

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Mr Feavyour said the force’s decision over the past eight months to run “a programme of downsizing” had led to a number of “operational tensions”.

The deputy chief constable will tell a meeting of the county’s police authority next week: “This brief snapshot provides some evidence of the pressure being felt to date as a consequence of the cuts.

“It’s worth noting that all commanders feel that the full impact will not be felt until later on into next year when greater numbers of staff have left the organisation.”

Mr Feavyour added that police involvement in an arson task force “is being concluded notwithstanding representations from the fire and rescue service.”

Cambridgeshire police has frozen recruitment and has lost 20 posts during an initial round of redundancies.