Wiltshire Police, one of the smallest forces in England and Wales, axes chief inspector role to cut red tape.
A police force has announced it is abolishing the rank of chief inspector in a bid to put more bobbies back on the beat.
Wiltshire Constabulary Helmet Plate
Pat Geenty, the chief constable of Wiltshire, said he had taken the decision to axe the rank in a bid to â€œreduce bureaucracyâ€ and to â€œclose the gapâ€ between top brass and frontline officers.
Other senior ranks, and senior civilian roles, could be eliminated in the future, he added.
But the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, warned that previous attempts to abolish middle management posts had been a failure and expressed concern the plan was being carried out without consultation.
Mr Geenty said: â€œI want to create an empowered workforce where our staff feel capable and confident in making decisions that ultimately have the best interests of the public in mind.
â€œThat means flattening our structure, reducing bureaucracy and closing the gap between what is happening on the front line and what is being said at a leadership level.â€
Wiltshireâ€™s 20 chief inspectors are expected to be lost through natural wastage, he said.
A spokesman for the force confirmed that the measure was expected to lead to more officers on the beat, although he was unable to say how many. With 1,060 officers in total Wiltshire is one of the smallest forces in England and Wales.
A chief inspectorâ€™s starting salary is just under Â£52,000 outside London, while constables start on Â£19,000 to Â£22,000 and can rise to Â£36,900.
It means that in theory Wiltshire could use the money currently spent on employing chief inspectors to invest in up to 54 junior constables, although some savings are likely to be earmarked for other management roles instead.
Mike White, chairman of Wiltshire Police Federation, said: â€œThe removal of the chief inspector rank has been tried before, following the Sheehy report into policing in the mid 1990s.
â€œThose forces that tried it have all re-instated the rank. Hopefully we can learn the lessons from their experiences.
â€œChanging the rank structure of the police should be something nationally agreed following appropriate consultation. In these circumstances this is a decision that has been locally made with no consultation with the Police Federation.â€
He added: â€œUnless we genuinely change the way we work additional pressure will be placed upon a group of officers already struggling to keep on top of their current workloads.â€
In England and Wales there are 1,801 chief inspectors from a total of just under 130,000 police officers, as at the end of March this year.
Northamptonshire Police recently announced it may axe the role of chief superintendent.
Police force pledges more â€˜bobbies on the beatâ€™ by scrapping senior rank
See - Police Federation against decommissioning chief inspector rank