CIVILIAN police workers have reacted with shock and anger at receiving notices warning their jobs are at risk of redundancy.

Durham Police issued letters and emails to its entire 1,160-strong civilian workforce on Friday, including police community support officers, advising that their posts are being considered for redundancy, as a result of cutbacks, and that the 90-day statutory consultation period had started.

One worker, who did not want to be named, said many workers found out about the redundancies on the news.

She said the notice stated everything possible had been done to try and save money, even down to improving energy efficiency, but ultimately there had been no choice but to consider job cuts.

She added: "I can say, hand on heart, that the union (UNISON) are doing as much as they can to help and this gives us some comfort.

"We had heard there was a possibility of cuts on the horizon but the shock was still horrendous.

"There are a lot of mixed feelings around at the moment and a lot of staff are really on rock bottom."

An unnamed PCSO added: "Police officers are safe in their jobs, but PCSOs who walk the streets showing the public that a police presence is there are facing the prospect of losing theirs.

"Some officers on the top salaries for time-served a PC have not been out on the streets for years, yet they are safe in the knowledge that their job is safe. To me, that does not make sense."

It is the first time there has ever been compulsory redundancies within the Durham Police force.

Arthur Dickinson, UNISON branch secretary, said the job losses were a direct result of Government cuts and will undermine front-line policing.

He added: "There is a lot of fear and uncertainty over numbers, but the 90-day consultation suggests that the force are looking to axe more than 100 jobs.

"Any redundancies will have a major impact on the quality of policing in Durham.

"We will be holding meetings with members to discuss the notices and with management at the earliest opportunity"

Meanwhile, Chief Constable Jon Stoddart, said: "I have every sympathy with police staff and understand their concerns regarding the security of their jobs.

"Sadly, the likelihood of future reductions in the amount of Government grant the constabulary receives has left us with no alternative but to consider compulsory redundancies.

"Staff can be assured we will be working with the police authority, trade unions and our health and welfare teams to support them to the best of our ability during what will understandably be a worrying period of time."