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County faces '1,500 police cuts'

Budget cuts could lead to 1,000 civilian and 500 police posts being scrapped in one force area, a chief constable has said.

Ian Learmonth of Kent Police said a 20% cut in funding may lead to the force losing £53 million over the next four years.

In a message to officers and staff, he said all areas of the force's budget and business are being scrutinised for "savings". Describing the cuts as "unprecedented" in his 36 years of police service, Mr Learmonth said he hopes the majority of any job losses would come through natural wastage and retirement.

He went on: "The Home Secretary has said her department may have to save a significant proportion of its current budget and we have to prepare for that. All areas of the force's business and budget are being examined. Clearly this is a very sensitive area for everyone and we must never lose sight of the fact we are dealing with people's jobs and people's lives.

"We have to be honest with everyone about the challenge that faces us and we will be."

Kent Police employs 3,728 officers and 2,932 civilian staff.

The true depth of the cuts will not be known until the Government publishes its comprehensive spending review at the end of October.

But Mr Learmonth, who joined Kent Police as chief constable in July, said he aims to keep the "same quality service and maintain the fall in crime that Kent has recorded over a number of years".

Policing budget cuts may see as many as 60,000 jobs cut nationwide, according to research for Jane's Police Review magazine.

Unions claimed crime will soar if police and civilian jobs are axed but the Government dismissed the prediction as speculation and said it wants to protect frontline services.

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