Police forces in England and Wales do not have a “clear understanding” of the demands placed on them or the factors that affect their costs, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).
The NAO said funding to police and crime commissioners fell by £2.3 billion in real terms between 2010/11 and 2015/15, a 25 per cent drop. Taking into account changes in central and local government funding, total funding to individual forces fell by between 12 per cent and 23 per cent.
In a report the NAO said forces planned to make collective savings of £2.5 billion between 2011/12 and 2014/15 through measures including reducing procurement costs, freezing recruitment and collaboration and including “partnerships with private sector partners to provide facilities or support services”.
“Forces will need to look at more radical ways to transform their operations, given the scale of workforce reductions required and the likely need to make further savings,” said the report.
The NAO said there was “insufficient information to identify signs of the sector being unable to deliver services” and “unclear links between financial reductions and service pressures”.
Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “Although police forces have successfully reduced costs, without a thorough understanding of demand or the factors that bear on their costs it is difficult for them to transform services intelligently.”
The Home Office said crime had fallen by a quarter since 2010.
Mike Penning, minister of state for policing, crime, criminal justice and victims, said: “There is no question that the police still have the resources to do their important work. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has made clear that the police are successfully meeting the challenge of balancing their books while protecting the frontline and delivering reductions in crime.
“The government has committed to a fundamental review of the police funding formula to ensure that allocations to local forces are fair and appropriate. We will consult police forces fully in due course.”