Ian Learmonth warns of difficult times ahead as he quits as chief constable ahead of £20m cutbacks
There are tougher times ahead... that from Kent's outgoing chief constable Ian Learmonth as he steps down from the top job.
Mr Learmonth told of his deep concerns about the difficult and challenging times being faced by the police, as he served his last day on the force yesterday.
The county’s most senior policeman announced his retirement in October last year, putting an end to a career which spans nearly 40 years.
Former Kent Police chief constable Ian Learmonth
One of Mr Learmonth’s main focuses during his role was dealing with severe budget cuts to public sector funding, after they were unveiled shortly after he was appointed in July 2010.
But the 55-year-old believes the force has tougher times ahead.
He said: “We’ve taken the first £50million out. We know that the next challenge will start next year: to find another £20million. That’s going to be really difficult.
"The £50million meant that we reduced our workforce but the workload has not gone away. The demand is still there, there’s no reduction.
"Even though we’ve got 1,200 fewer people we’re still doing the same workload and indeed possibly a little bit more.
"So the next £20million will be very difficult and we’re at that point where that will start to affect the service delivery we currently enjoy.”
He added: “The force is stretched now, there’s no doubt. Some of my colleagues out there on a daily basis are just banging from job to job to job and that’s their daily routine.
Chief Constable Learmonth patrols the streets with two officers
"We will still deliver policing, there’s no doubt about that.
"We will find the next £20million, there’s no doubt about that either. The trick is what you do with the resources that you’ve got left.”
While the father-of-two is worried about the pressure Kent’s crime workers are facing, he promises it has nothing to do with his decision to step down.
He said: “It was time to move on. I was always going to go at the end of the year anyway, it’s just an opportunity came up a little bit earlier than expected.”
The comments come at a time when there is concern Kent’s police will face other increased pressures.
It is believed thousands of Bulgarians and Romanians are expected to settle in the county over the next few years.
Mr Learmonth said: “I think it’s a bit early to make any real judgement. It’s something that the force is monitoring, it’s something that we’re aware of.
“When you get different communities settling within the county, particularly if they’ve got different cultural attitudes to different things, you just need to understand this before you start jumping to any conclusions.”
Deputy chief constable Alan Pughsley is now the chief constable of Kent
Thinking positively, the now former chief constable feels he is leaving behind what he has always known after joining Essex Police as a cadet at the age of 16.
He said: “It’s a very strange feeling having committed the whole of my working life to policing and then to finally get to the day where I’m clearing the office out and handing back my kit.
"It’s sort of mixed feelings really, I’m excited for the next stage and a little bit apprehensive to leave the family of policing.
"Kent Police is a fantastic organisation and a force that is well respected up and down the country and to be given the opportunity to be the chief constable here is like being given a gold watch. It’s a fantastic privilege and an honour.”
“It was time to move on. I was always going to go at the end of the year anyway, it’s just an opportunity came up a little bit earlier than expected" - Ian Learmonth
Mr Learmonth will be handing over his position to Alan Pughsley who has been acting as Kent Police’s Deputy Chief Constable since March 2011.
He said: Alan’s a very experienced police officer. His experience in the world of crime is second-to-none.
"He knows the county very well having been here for over four years and he’s absolutely the right choice to take on the role of chief constable and to take the force forward.”
After some laughter he said his only advice to the man who’ll be filling his shoes is to simply “enjoy it”.
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