September 28, 2020

[UK] Police forces all face major budget cuts

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_80444279_80444278By Danny Shaw From BBC

Every police force in England and Wales is preparing for major budget cuts over the next five years, the BBC has found.

Forces are facing a 5% cut in government funding in 2015/16 and more cuts after the general election.

Some forces are planning to reduce officer numbers to help them operate on smaller budgets.

To lessen the impact, 34 forces plan an increase of the precept – the part of the council tax put towards policing – over the forthcoming year.

Gwent’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Ian Johnston said the scale of planned cuts has not “been understood by the public or politicians”. His force is facing a deficit of £18.9m by 2018/19.

But former policing minister Damian Green said forces could do more to save money.

Cuts forecasts
The expected budget cuts come after a reduction of 20% since 2011 in the amount spent by the Home Office on the police.

After 2015/16, all forces are bracing themselves for further cuts amounting to hundreds of millions of pounds.

The exact level of savings required will depend on the outcome of the general election.

Some PCCs have produced forecasts of budget cuts to 2019, others until 2020, among them:

Kent – £61m budget cut over the next four years
South Yorkshire – £49m between 2016/17 and 2019/20
Merseyside – £47.5m between 2016/17 and 2018/19
Thames Valley – £33m between 2016/17 and 2017/18
In Cumbria, under the PCC’s “change programme” to deliver savings of £10m by 2019, the force will be “resolving some issues to the satisfaction of callers without deploying an officer to the scene”.

Proposals from Hampshire’s PCC, Simon Hayes, say that operational policing “can no longer be ring-fenced” and that front-line services “need to be reduced to meet the financial budget”.

Home Secretary Theresa May has warned there will have to be further cuts if the Conservatives form the next government.

She has suggested integrating the three emergency services – police, fire, ambulance – is one way to save money.

Labour says it will help police forces find significant savings by reducing the costs they pay for equipment, IT and other services.

‘Shift resources’
Peter Vaughan, acting president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said falling crime levels do not mean police forces need less money because “if I look at my own force, for example, crime is only 28% of what we deal with on a daily basis”.

Tony Lloyd, Police Commissioner for Greater Manchester, says cutting police officers will “put communities at risk”

Greater Manchester PCC Tony Lloyd said the government should look at funding cuts again.

He told BBC Breakfast there had been 8,000 officers in his force as recently as 2010, but there could drop to 5,500 “if the present projected cuts go ahead”.

Such a reduction would be “a huge change in police numbers”, he added.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Tory plans threatened “serious risks to policing and community safety”.

But Tory MP Damian Green said police had coped well with cuts so far, adding: “We’ve only actually scratched the surface with what can be done both with reorganisation and with technology.”

Cuts collaborations
The analysis also shows that the precept will increase in three-quarters of areas in the next financial year to offset central government cuts.

Of the 34 forces planning to increase the precept, 30 will do so by just under 2%.

In most cases it is thought that will mean householders having to pay a few pounds more each year in their council tax – on top of any other rises imposed by local authorities.

That is a significant threshold as PCCs in England who want to raise the precept by 2% or more have to hold a referendum – which is what Bedfordshire’s PCC, Olly Martins, is doing on general election day.

He is proposing a precept rise to maintain police recruitment and plug a £6m budget gap in 2019.

“A rise of 15.8% would restore effective neighbourhood policing in all areas and balance the budget until beyond the next Parliament,” he says on his website.

In Wales, which has different rules, three forces will increase the precept by between 3.44% and 5% – while it will be lowered by 5% in Dyfed Powys, the only Welsh force where there will be a reduction.

Force collaborations
Many PCCs say further cuts will inevitably mean fewer officers, as most policing costs go on staffing.

The number of officers currently stands at 127,000 – the lowest level since September 2001 – though Labour promise to reverse planned cuts of 1,100 officer posts in 2015/16.

Lancashire’s Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, says by April his force will have lost 700 officers and 500 staff – losses that he claims could double by 2020/21 if the cuts continue at the current pace.

But some PCCs appear to be rising to the challenge of making savings.

Suffolk Police’s Commissioner, Tim Passmore, says the force is undergoing a “radical service redesign so that the constabulary can continue to keep people safe”.

The redesign includes “continued collaboration” with Norfolk Police.

Other so-called “strategic alliances” include Warwickshire and West Mercia, Avon and Somerset and Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall and Dorset, and South Yorkshire and Humberside.

For more on this story go to: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-31771456

Related story:

Crime in England and Wales falls to new record low

By Dominic Casciani From BBC

The figures show the types of crime are changing
Crime has fallen to new record low levels in England and Wales, despite some increases as a result of changes in how police record incidents.

The official crime survey found there were seven million incidents in the year to September 2014 – down 11% on the previous 12 months.

Police recorded crime remained stable at 3.7 million incidents – but with rises in violence and sexual offences.

The Office for National Statistics says those rises relate to better recording.

The figures published on Thursday are the penultimate results before the general election in May. Official figures on crime are published every quarter and are drawn from two sources. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and incidents reported to the police and recorded by them.

The CSEW, which questions 35,000 people, estimates that crime is now at its lowest level since the rolling study began in 1981.

Last year, the national statistics watchdog said it could no longer approve figures recorded by the police because they were unreliable – prompting major revisions of how each force handles its figures.

That review has played a key part in a 16% rise in recorded violence, a 10% rise in public order offences and a 22% rise in sexual offences.

‘Broken promise’
Forces recorded 24,000 rapes and almost 49,000 other sexual offences – the highest numbers since comparable records began in 2002-03. The ONS said these rises were thought to be down to the improvements in how police were recording crimes and a greater willingness of victims to come forward than before.

The latest figures also appear to underline a developing shift in crime away from more visible and publicly obvious offences, such as robbery, to those that are more difficult to identify.

Police officers in high-viz
Police recorded a 5% increase in fraud to around 212,000 incidents – four times the rate of robbery in England and Wales. Experts think fraud and cyber-crimes remain substantially under-reported.

At the same time, the CSEW estimated that 5% of people had been victims of bank card fraud, a statistically significant rise on the year before. The figures suggest that the chance of being a victim of bank card crime is now higher than suffering theft of personal property.

There was also an increase in sexual material offences, linked to the online distribution of abuse images via computers or mobile technology.

Chief Constable Jeff Farrar of Gwent Police, who speaks for all forces on crime statistics, said: “Our challenge is to deal effectively with the growing demand from complex public protection issues and cyber-crime – where the offences, and the outcomes of the police response, are not easily measured in the current system – while further improving recording and keeping traditional types of crime down.”

David Cameron praised the results. “It’s encouraging to see that crime is at its lowest level since records began in 1981,” he said.

“The police are doing a great job.”

But shadow policing minister Jack Dromey said the government had “broken its promise to protect front line police”.

“The police are struggling to cope with the sheer scale of criminal investigation into child sex exploitation and abuse and rapidly growing fraud and online crime,” he said.

“The home secretary continues to insist that they have cut the police but they have also cut crime, despite the fact her assertions do not include all crime.”

For more on this story go to: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-30931732

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