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This week letters were issued to affected staff advising them of the proposed changes, Superintendent Bob Burns confirmed yesterday.
"We are at the early stages of advising staff of the proposed impacts and we're not prepared to discuss this publicly in further detail at this time in fairness to staff who may be affected by the proposal," he said.
Supt Burns said the changes would largely affect support staff, but declined to give a figure for possible job losses.
A staff member said the changes would affect those in Dunedin, Invercargill and the district's smaller stations.
Sworn staff were"gutted" by the announcement, and "ultimately we are the backbone of the station and provide sworn staff with help for their own safety and wellbeing".
"How are we expected to cut crime with fewer support staff?''
Staff, which included those who have been told will lose their jobs, will meet senior management next week, and have until October 19 to write submissions.
Supt Burns said "Our objective is to look after our staff as much as possible during this time."
Southern police was realigning its work processes as part of the national rollout of Policing Excellence.
He said all police districts were going through the same changes, and "the key objectives are to take administrative work off frontline staff and increase the level of deployment of staff into proactive and preventative activities".
"Our ultimate goal with these changes is to strive to provide even better quality service to the public and victims of crime."
Southern police, as part of the changes, would establish a centralised File Management Centre and Workforce Deployment function and other functions such as a Criminal Justice Support Unit and Investigative Support Unit.
Police Association Southern District regional director Brett Roberts, said from Wellington yesterday, "I had heard some letters had gone to some staff members".
He did not know which jobs would be disestablished, but the association would work with all affected members.
• Uncertainty remains for KiwiRail's infrastructure and engineering staff, despite an expectation from the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) a final decision on job losses would be made this week.
Union delegates and KiwiRail management met in Wellington yesterday to discuss national job losses within the infrastructure and engineering division.
After the meeting, RMTU South Island organiser John Kerr said proposals were being "refined" and it would be premature for him to comment further. He expected to release more information next week.
• A final decision on whether to cut up to 30 workers from Delta's Dunedin operation is expected to be released today.
The Dunedin City Council-owned company announced last week it was entering consultation with staff over plans to shed up to 30 jobs from its Dunedin roading and drainage operations.
Delta chief executive Grady Cameron yesterday issued a brief written statement, confirming the outcome of consultation was now expected to be announced today - one day later than scheduled.
"We received more submissions than we had expected on a range of matters and are carefully working through the implications of those submissions before making a final decision," he said.