The police service will have to make fundamental changes to how it is structured and the role it carries out, Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales have said in their analysis of possible budget reductions for the next five years.
Police and Crime Commissioners recognise that budget reductions are necessary to play their part in reducing public spending and have made significant savings and improvement is productivity while still keeping communities safe from crime.
However, with reductions in staff levels and support services already made, further budget constraints will lead to difficult questions on how best to structure police forces to respond to changes in crime and what this would mean for the local service provided to the public.
With financial pressures on other local services such as health, ambulance and councils, people automatically look to the Police to help them.
Paddy Tipping, Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner said:
“Police and Crime Commissioners, working with Chief Constables, have made significant savings since 2012 and we know that more will be needed. Crime has changed and become more complicated and more global, with further resources needed for areas like cybercrime and counter terrorism. The police service cannot respond to these challenges alone, and other sectors and industries will have to work with us to share the responsibility to respond to changes in crime.
“With more savings needed there will need to be a fundamental rethink on how we are organised, the service we offer the public, and the roles and skills needed.”
The analysis shows that:
- Varying between forces, since 2010 staff posts have reduced by 15,500 (19.5%);
- By 2020 police staffing levels could reduce to approximately 100,000 – the lowest level since the mid-1970s, and a further reduction of 17% since CSR10;
- The funding shortfall could be approximately £400 million in the first year and increasing up to as high as £1.2 billion by 2020;
- With fewer people to call on the successful civilianisation of some posts may be scaled back or reversed. Some forces have already identified that officers would have to perform back office functions; and
- While further savings in running costs, procurement and ICT can be delivered over the next five years a fundamental reconfiguration of roles will be needed.
Proposed budget reductions will affect forces in different ways. PCCs would like to work with government on suggested approached that would help to minimise the impact of budget reductions. These include:
- greater freedom to set local Council Tax plans;
- more flexible approaches to income generation;
- ensuring that the Police service receives funding to cover the impact of commercial and residential development;
- stronger powers for PCCs to promote cross sector working;
- protection of current grants for community safety and victim support; and
- a national scheme to provide support for the voluntary sector and local volunteers.
Posted on Friday 4th September 2015