Kent’s new police chief says arming his officers with hand held tablets like iPads will mean the public will see just as much of them on the streets - despite the likely loss of a further 100 officers.
Chief constable Alan Pughsley said a £20m budget cut forced on it by the government could lead to as many as 100 more police officers losing their jobs.
He also confirmed the force would no longer be able to send officers to every victim of crime and low level incidents would be dealt with over the phone.
About 500 staff have already been cut by Kent Police as a result of the public sector spending freeze.
Mr Pughsley said while more job losses were a reality, it did not mean the public would see fewer officers on the beat.
Supplying them with iPads or other devices to process paperwork meant they would not have to return to stations as often, he said.
Cutting jobs of frontline officers would be a “last resort” and savings would be made elsewhere if possible.
Deputy chief constable Alan Pughsley is now the chief constable of Kent
“The £20m will not all be a reduction in police staff - we will take as much of that saving as we can out of the non-people part of the business.
"But the reality is that some of that will be police officers.
"If I was guessing, it could be anything up to 100 officers off the books over the next couple of years. Of course that could have some impact if we don’t do things differently.”
Investment in new technolology would mean officers being able to remain on the streets rather than returning to the station to deal with paperwork, he said.
Alongside proposals to have at least four neighbourhood officers in each of the county’s districts, there would be “true visibilty and engagement” rather than officers “driving around in cars and not getting out and engaging with the community,” he said.
New Kent Police chief constable Alan Pughsley with police commissioner Ann Barnes
“The changes in the way we do things will keep visible policing at what it is today. Officers won’t be coming back to the station as much.”
He downplayed concerns over the anticipated arrival of a new wave of migrants from Romania and Bulgaria, saying they were as likely to be victims of crime as much as criminals.
“The changes in the way we do things will keep visible policing at what it is today. Officers won’t be coming back to the station as much” - Chief Constable Alan Pughsley
“I have not seen anything that concerns me...it is not something we are missing.
"We have to engage with all emerging communities and without that, those new communities have become victims of crime as well as commit crime themselves.”
“Are there risks we should be keeping abreast of and a careful eye on? Of course there are.
"But all of that is to make sure that whether it is new communities settling in or current communities already here, they can enjoy life to the full and free of anti-social behaviour.”
Mr Pughsley, who has a five-year contract and was deputy chief constable, succeeds Ian Learmonth who retired in December.