Cuts To Police Budget Will Be “Painful Process”

POLICE officers and staff are being consulted on how best to cut �9 million from the force’s budget in Cambridgeshire - and up to �33m over the next four years - to meet Government demands to reduce spending.

POLICE officers and staff are being consulted on how best to cut �9 million from the force’s budget in Cambridgeshire - and up to �33m over the next four years - to meet Government demands to reduce spending.

Deputy Chief Constable John Feavyour is talking to as many of the force’s 2,500 officers and staff as possible to find out how they think cuts can be made while maintaining high levels of service to people in Cambridgeshire.

The visits are the beginning of consultations that will give everyone a chance to have their say about the future of policing in the county.

The Government has asked all public sector organisations, including police forces, to work out how they can make cuts of between 25 and 40 per cent to their budgets.

For Cambridgeshire Constabulary that means cutting around �9 million from the �130 million budget by next April.

Over the next four years, it could add up to a �33 million cut in Government funding for the force.

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Mr Feavyour said: “The cuts the government has asked us to make are deep.

“The worst case scenario of �33 million less over the next four years would equate to losing all our police staff or 1100 officers. These are both unrealistic propositions.

“However, this is a new government and the national financial situation is critical. Such dramatic numbers leave us with some very stark choices to make.

“The reality is that we have already had to start the painful process of making cuts.

“We have so far been forced to make more than 20 police staff redundant and freeze recruitment to over 50 more posts in order to find the �1.2 million cut by the government from this year’s budget.

“This cut was unprecedented and unexpected and it has already had a real impact on people’s lives and families.

“There is still another �7.8million to cut from our budget before next March, the equivalent of a further 200 police staff posts.”

Mr Feavyour added: “Employing the police officers and staff who work so hard to make Cambridgeshire safe accounts for in excess of 80 per cent of our budget so it is inevitable that further drastic cuts will be needed at every level in the force.

“I am confident that if we remain properly focused we can survive and improve but in order to do that we must ask not only officers and staff but also the people we serve for their ideas and views. “I have set up a team, led by Chief Superintendent Nigel Trippett, to look at every option for cutting cost. He will be leading the work to look at all the many ideas already put forward by officers and staff. He will then look at ways to ask local people what they think.”

Cambridgeshire Police Authority is closely involved.

Chairman Ruth Rogers said: “As far as future decisions are concerned we will find out on October 20 what the Government’s spending review means in terms of cuts in the Home Office’s overall budget.

“However, it will not be until November or December that we have the kind of clarity we need to be specific about the budget the force will have in 2011/12 and beyond.

“Only then can we have any financial certainty for the future.

“One thing we do know is that there will be no increase in council tax funding available to us next year.

“However, the police authority is clear that it is essential for the force to remain citizen focused and not lose sight of its commitment to delivering the best service possible.”

Mr Feavyour will be joined by Chief Superintendent Trippett for the nine visits which started last week. Work to consult officers and staff will continue in coming weeks.

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