Concern over impact of police cuts

A CHANGE in the way policing is organised and funded is needed so the public are kept safe in the face of further cost cutting, says a report.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary said Police forces had met the financial challenge of the spending review – crime continued to fall and victim satisfaction is up.

Forces were protecting their front line services as best they can, said the HMIC report.

The study, entitled, Policing in Austerity, states that 35 out of 43 forces are judged as having a 'good' response to cuts and five are judged to be 'outstanding'.

Three forces were found to be in need of improvement and no forces were judged as 'inadequate'.

The study includes an assessment of each police force.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham said: "It is not easy to provide the high quality police service that the public rightly demands, with far less money."

Police forces estimate that more than three in every 20 jobs in policing will have been lost over this period of austerity.

The best of forces were targeting their resources well, working with local public sector organisations to reduce crime, and collaborating with others to reduce costs.

But Ms Billingham added: "As budgets continue to tighten, savings become harder to realise.

"HMIC is calling for a change in the way policing is organised and funded, so that as further substantial cost reductions are made, the police continue to keep the public safe."

The Police Federation of England and Wales said one third of forces could struggle to maintain services if the public sector cuts continued.

Federation chairman Steve White said: "We have been warning about the impact budget cuts are having on public safety from the start of the austerity measures.

He added: "There are ways that forces can save money and they have been doing their best to manage but you can only cut so much before you reach the bone."

HMIC has tracked police forces' responses to 20% budget cuts since summer 2011.

This is the fourth report in their series looking at how they make savings and how it is impacting on the workforce and service they provide.

It found that forces planned to save more than £2.5 billion over the last four years.


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