Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Police Commissioner on latest proposed budget cuts: "Enough is Enough"

Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw has hit out at the Government after the scale of potential cuts facing Lancashire Constabulary was revealed earlier today by Chancellor George Osborne.

While some public service budgets have been protected from spending cuts, such as schools, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport faces a 7% cut in funding, Energy 8% and Environment 10% - and millions of public sector workers face losing automatic annual pay increases.

Like the Departnent of Business, the Home Office face a 6% cut to its budget - a reduction which means the policing budget for Lancashire could be reduced by a further £11m.

This means the force will have potentially lost a staggering £74m from its overall budget between the May 2010 elections and 2016.

And today Clive Grunshaw sent a clear message to Westminster - residents in Lancashire are not prepared to tolerate any more cuts.

He said: "It is time to say, enough is enough.

"These cuts are on an unprecedented scale, and have now reached a stage where policing is being put at risk.

"It is clear this Government refuses to wake up and realise there is a tipping point – a point at which continued cuts do not just become about making savings, but about fundamentally redesigning the police force.

"There seems to be an assumption no matter how much is cut from budgets, services will adapt and continue to perform at the same level – that is no longer the case.

"This latest round of cuts puts policing in the county under threat, and undermines the work the Constabulary does to protect its residents.

"The call to save what could potentially be another £11m comes at a time when, here in Lancashire, we have already been cut to the bone. And it means we have now reached a point where consideration will have to be given to whether police functions previously seen as vital – such as the mounted branch or the dog unit – have to be cut.

"People in Lancashire rightly expect the police to deliver them a high quality service which keeps them safe from harm. But with fewer officers and fewer resources, it may be for this Government to explain to communities why the service they are receiving from their force has had to change.

"We have already closed front counters, shut Fleetwood Custody Office, sold off rural police stations, reshaped our Neighbourhood Policing Teams and changed how we respond to incidents, as well as streamlining and redefining functions, in order to save the millions already asked of us.

"Despite all these cuts, the hard work of officers and staff in Lancashire means crime has still continued to fall. But, if another £11m comes out of the budget, it will be an almost impossible task for that high level of performance to continue.

"Policing has always been about resilience, managing threat and making sure residents feel safe in their communities – and I know that is what the residents of Lancashire want from their police force.

"However, it is clear this Government is ignoring the wishes of the electorate and pressing ahead with cuts that will fundamentally change the service our communities receive.

"This potential cut of up to another £11m is going to be incredibly difficult to find, and we are going to be forced to make difficult decisions about what services the police can continue to provide."

The Government has said police budgets will be cut by "less than six per cent". The exact details of the cuts facing the county's police and crime budget will be revealed later in the year.

Following the May 2010 elections, public services were required to identify savings in the region of 20 per cent over a four year period. For Lancashire Constabulary, this equated to a budget reduction of approximately £43m.

By the end of last year significant changes had already been made to realise savings of £38.7m including the closure of 15 front counters, the sale of rural police stations, the closure of Fleetwood Custody office, the reshaping of Neighbourhood Policing Teams and changes to the way calls and incidents are responded to.

In December 2012 the Government made it clear the austerity period would now stretch to 2016/17 and the Constabulary's funding gap increased to £63m.

A review is currently underway into how those additional savings will be found, with £10m needed to be cut by April 2014.

Today's announcement means the Constabulary may now have to find up to another £11m of savings, on top of the ongoing review.

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