Budget cuts threaten five police forces

22 July 2013

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23 July 2013 | Adam Leach

The majority of police forces in England and Wales have met the challenge of reducing spending, but five will face severe difficulties delivering further savings.

Policing in Austerity: Rising to the Challenge, published last week by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), praised police forces for making savings while striving to maintain frontline services.

But the report criticised the lack of collaboration between forces. It found just 18 of 43 forces are planning on delivering at least 10 per cent of their savings by pooling their spending power with other forces or public authorities.

The review also highlighted five forces would be in danger should budgets be reduced further. These were Bedfordshire Police and Lincolnshire Police, which HMIC said had already made the majority of its possible cuts. The report said West Yorkshire Policeand South Yorkshire Police had favoured short-term savings over making operations more efficient. And it said Northamptonshire Police must address performance issues before making further efficiency savings.

In a statement Tom Windsor, HM chief inspector of constabulary, said: “Working smarter, doing things in different ways, will be necessary. That will include greater measures of collaboration between forces and with the private sector and other parts of the public sector.”

Colette Paul, chief constable of Bedfordshire Police, said the force was working hard to identify opportunities, while pointed out the service had reduced its budget and improved performance.

Mark Burns-Williamson, police and crime commissioner for West Yorkshire, said: “The simple fact of the matter is that we are among a group of large forces that are more reliant on government funding and therefore suffer the greatest cuts.”

Lincolnshire Police rejected HMIC’s claim that entering into a strategic partnership with G4S had reduced its ability to deliver efficiency savings. Police and crime commissioner Alan Hardwick said the partnership provided greater flexibility and capacity, and was concerned by “an incessant focus on cuts and doom-mongering."

Northamptonshire and South Yorkshire police forces did not respond to SM’s request for comment.

Police forces in England and Wales have already seen their budgets cut by 20 per cent. They must now cut spending by a further 4.9 per cent in 2015-16.

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