THAMES Valley Police could lose 166 civilian posts as it attempts to survive “stormy waters” in the coming year.

Chief Constable Sara Thornton told the Thames Valley Police Authority today that the force was planning a two per cent rise in its share of council tax.

Ms Thornton also said she was planning £5m cuts in next year’s budget.

However, treasurer Bob Atkins said that, in a worst case scenario, the force was facing a £40m shortfall in its budget over the next three years, due to a predicted cut of more than five per cent in its Government grant.

Ms Thornton said: “In order to balance at two per cent we have taken £5m in productivity savings, which includes £2.6m non-staff costs and £2.4m in staff costs, which I believe was unavoidable.

“We have gone through the details and this means a reduction of 166 police staff posts. We believe two thirds of these are vacant or could be redeployed.

“But it does mean there could be up to 50 redundancies.”

No police officers or police community support officers will lose their jobs.

Unison, which represents civilian staff, fears cuts would mean more police officers filling civilian posts.

Last year’s force budget was £369m, of which £141m came from the Government.