Posted: Monday 28th July 2014
It’s natural to fear change but sometimes the best triumphs are born out of doing things differently. As far as policing goes, it’s been a tough week and I’m under no illusion that things could get tougher in the months ahead. While it is true that our decisions are being driven by our financial position, they are nevertheless the right ones for our communities and the time we have spent looking at the efficiency of our organisation has been of immense value. I’m confident that the public will reap the benefits in the future.
The Force and I have been working hard to develop a new policing model for the county which is heavily focused on crime prevention. This is a logical step but also a necessary one in order to meet future demand on policing. The new arrangements are being implemented at a rapid pace and already we are talking to officers, staff and our partners about the changes.
Admittedly, this week’s publication of HMIC’s Valuing the Police Programme has been disappointing however the inspection was carried out before our new model was finalised and we are now at a more advanced stage of our preparations to secure our financial future.
We have a balanced budget this year, and I’m confident this will be the case next year. But the long-term financial health of the Force relies on a redesign of the workforce, changes to the way we operate and expanded collaboration opportunities. HMIC’s concern around the timings of these decisions was probably fair at the time of the inspection but we’re now much further ahead.
Our robust plans will enhance services for our communities. We have a strong track record in delivering what is needed, with £42m of savings made in the past three years alone. I’m not denying that it’s tough out there, but HMIC is fully aware of our position and has publicly acknowledged the progress we’ve made since this report.
We’re looking very hard within the Force to see whether we are using our resources to maximum effect. This has been very much the case with our police station and front counter review, which has analysed footfall figures to decide how and where we could be better meeting public need.
Following public consultation, we are now implementing plans to relocate some police stations and reduce some less-used front counter services. These decisions have been made for economic reasons but the fact that they were underused means it is a logical step and one that will help us protect frontline policing.
Understandably, these plans have been met with concern but my priority is maintaining neighbourhood policing. Buildings cannot protect the public like officers can. The decisions are tough but necessary.