Authority Responds to Spending Review
Speaking today on the budget challenges facing policing in Cheshire, Police Authority Chairman Margaret Ollerenshaw said, “Cheshire Constabulary is a relatively low cost force. Independent value for money studies have shown it to be cost-effective in many areas of business. Our police also deliver a good service that the public tell us meets their needs. This is reflected in the latest crime figures released by the Government which show crime fell by 10% over the 12 month period to June 2010”.
All public services will have to make substantial cuts in their budgets to meet the challenging financial targets set out in today’s Comprehensive Spending Review. In meeting these challenges, our aim will be to continue to deliver the things that the public say they need from us while making the changes that are necessary to cut our costs.
We have been planning for the budget cuts and this year, we will be making £6.7 million savings through a combination of things such as better procurement, reducing police recruitment, cutting some police staff jobs, and doing things differently. We also have plans in place to change the way we provide things such as human resources, IT and financial support. A programme agreed by the Police Authority in 2009, is likely to result in a reduction of 170 police staff posts in these departments.
The headline funding figures for policing have been released today, but it will be late autumn before we know the precise detail of how much we have to save to meet Home office targets over the next four years. A first review suggests that if a 4% spending cut is applied to our funding from the Home Office each year, we could have to make up to £35.5 million of cuts over the next four years.
Cuts in other budgets – health, education, highways, courts, prisons – will impact on policing operations because so much of the work the police do is joined-up with other agencies. We will not have a clear picture of this impact until the New Year.
84% of our costs are people related, so we will have to look at all aspects of our business in order to reduce costs. It is too early to say how many jobs will have to be cut in order to meet the public expenditure reduction targets, but it is clear that there will be considerably fewer police officers and fewer police staff in 4 years time. The challenge that the Authority faces is to achieve the savings whilst still maintaining the level of public service that people in Cheshire have come to expect from a very successful police force.
We will be asking the public to support Cheshire Police and the Authority in making some of the very difficult financial decisions that will be required in order to balance our budgets.
Recent public consultation by the Police Authority suggests public put greatest priority on: police response to calls for assistance; tackling the crime and issues that matter in local communities; and the arresting of offenders.
The Police Authority will be seeking the views of Cheshire residents in a consultation programme prior to setting the police budget. The budget will be set in March 2011.
To arrange an interview with the Chairman of the Police Authority please contact the Constabulary Press Desk on 01244 6120 30/31 or Anna Collins, Police Authority Engagement Manager on 01244 614102.