BUDGET cuts at Cheshire Polkice will result in the loss of 255 police officers by March next year, according to a plice watchdog.

In a report into efficiency savings at Cheshire Police, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary revealed the extent of job losses.

It said officer numbers will stand at 1,900 by March 31, 2015, compared to 2,155 on March 31, 2010.

Police staff will drop by 353 over the same period, from 1,550 to 1,197, while 17 CSO jobs will go.

The overall number of job losses in five years is set to be 626.

However, the number of special constables - unpaid volunteers with police powers - will rise from 300 to 520.

HMIC said the constabulary is making ‘good progress’ in hitting a savings target of £33 million by March 2015, with plans in place to ‘deliver all savings needed’.

It is also ‘likely’ that further savings in 2016/2017 ‘can be delivered’.

Roger Baker, HM Inspector of constabulary for the northern region said: “Cheshire Constabulary is on track to meet its financial challenge of the spending review period and also beyond.

“The constabulary has a proven track record of meeting financial challenges, while at the same time delivering high-quality community policing to those working and living in Cheshire.

“The change programme is developing how policing will be delivered more efficiently and with fewer resources in the future.

“HMIC found that the way the constabulary manages change is a real strength, its programme is well-led, and ownership is shared widely among senior management and staff throughout the organisation.”