Federation Warns Financial Cuts Will Devastate Policing

You will not have failed to see the large scale media coverage of the potential draconian cuts in public spending which the coalition government plan to formally announce on 20th October 2010.

The police service is expected to make a fair share of the reductions. The Home Office is looking at options for 25% - 40% reductions. Whilst the size of the overall settlement will be known on 20th October. Force level allocation will not be published until December.

We anticipate cuts of at least 25% in policing budget. A cut of this magnitude will have a disastrous effect on policing.

Recourse to the HMIC ‘Valuing the Police’ report in July 2010 – shows that between 2004 and 2008 forces have achieved £1.5 billion of efficiency savings. And the British Crime Survey shows that crime has fallen by 50% since 1995 and crime recorded by the police is down 31% since 2003/04.

And the same report reported that ‘A re-design of the system has the potential, at best, to save 12% of central government funding, while maintaining police availability. A cut beyond 12% would almost certainly reduce police availability unless it were prioritised over and above everything else the police did.'

Regarding possible police cuts as a result of the coming Comprehensive Spending Review, Paul McKeever, Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said:

"We have asked our 43 Federation branch boards what the impact of a budget cut of 25 percent will mean for them. The results of those who have been able to reply to date make grim reading.

Many forces have frozen recruitment and are not replacing police officers when they retire. A number are considering use of A19 to compulsory retire police officers with 30 years or more service.

This all means we could potentially see a reduction in police officer numbers of anything up to 40,000 in the lifetime of this coalition government.

The time has come for the government to come clean with the public. Budget cuts of this magnitude will affect frontline policing, whether it's domestic violence units, neighbourhood policing teams, air support units, dog units, public order units or general CID.

The only winner will be the criminal - to them it's an early Christmas present. Especially when coupled with the Justice Secretary's intention to empty the prisons in favour of more failing community service order schemes.

Our plea to government is simple. It's not too late; protect the police budget and protect your police service. Or else be honest with the public, as the level of policing currently delivered will not be sustainable if we have budgets cut by one quarter."

How this could impact locally was covered recently in the Northern Echo: http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/8386454.Crimewave_fears_over_police_cuts/.

And also in the Yorkshire Post: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/Crime-Police-warn-of-39Christmas.6526041.jp.

And the government reaction can be found here: http://m.guardian.co.uk/?id=102202&story=http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/sep/14/cameron-public-service-cuts-coalition.

Whilst the view of the Audit Commission can be seen here: www.audit-commission.gov.uk/policevfm.

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