A WELSH Government minister is to take up the issue of cuts to custody detention officers with Gwent’s chief constable Carmel Napier, the AM for Torfaen has said.

Lynne Neagle spoke to communities minister Carl Sargeant at a meeting over proposals to cut 15 of the posts.

Ms Neagle, together with Linda Sweet and Roger Smith from the force’s Unison branch, told Mr Sargeant the move will inevitably lead to front-line police officers being pulled off the beat to sit behind desks in custody suites.

Ms Neagle said: “Although he does not have the power to intervene directly, he’s promised to take this up with the chief constable on our behalf and I will be writing to him formally following our meeting to press home the points we discussed.”

Roger Smith, chairman of Unison Gwent Police Branch added: “When you take into account the cost of redundancies and the expense of training police officers to the job of a custody detention officer, they will actually ending up costing Gwent Police a considerable amount of money at a time when they are facing cuts and need to make huge savings.”

The Argus reported this year that 15 of 30 detention officers in Newport and Ystrad Mynach face redundancy.

The force will train up officers to replace them.

Assistant chief constable Simon Prince said the plans would allow the force to have more officers on duty in custody units when demand is high and more officers on the street at other times. He had apologised that the plans mean uncertainty for some.