Devon and Cornwall Police Authority must make savings of around £50 million over the next four years - and staff are in the firing line, with hundreds of jobs expected to go. The scale of the reductions is being driven by massive reductions in Government grants, it was stated today as the authority set its budget for the next financial year. Around £16.7 million in savings will have to be found over the next 12 months and a similar sum the year after. Further savings will be made until the end of the financial year in 2015. Over 80 per cent of the authoritys expenditure is on salaries and up to 500 could lose their jobs. Challenges of this proportion require radical action and major change, said Mike Bull, chairman of the police authority. If we are to make savings on this scale, and in such a short space of time, (and we have no real choice) we need to explore every opportunity available to us. In the last year alone the Force has made significant cash savings of £3.6M. Although we are working as hard as we can to make saving from non-staff budgets, the majority of these savings must come from people costs as over 80 per cent of spend is on salaries. Mr Bull added: The force has now implemented Regulation A19 and there is a police officer recruitment freeze in place. These actions will help achieve some of the required savings. However, because of the lower than expected amounts in some of our police grants, we are now left with no option other than to reduce our police staff numbers by up to 500. There are many different variables involved in deciding the final number of police staff losses and these are not all known at this stage. Chief Constable Stephen Otter said: The force faces very difficult decisions over the coming months, many of which are likely to directly affect peoples jobs. These decisions will not be taken lightly and we will do everything we can to minimise the impact on officers and staff. We will do our very best to support all our staff and officers through this challenging time and our aim is to provide assistance wherever possible. It is vital that during this period we look at all options that will enable us to make savings. We will continue to have the capacity and resilience to deal with major incidents and protecting frontline services will remain a top priority. It is important the public judge us on the service we deliver and not on the number of officers we have. Despite these challenging times ahead, we are determined to emerge leaner and fitter and continue to provide the best possible service we can to the communities we serve.