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More cuts are coming

17 November 2015

Cuts, budgets and funding have dominated discussions around policing for the last five years and I see no sign of a let-up in the coming weeks, months or even years. In fact, I think it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Just last week, the Force confirmed that there would be a further reduction to officer and staff numbers as it tries to make the savings imposed on it by the Government.

Then on 25 November, Chancellor George Osborne will deliver a speech outlining details of the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review which will set out the cuts we can expect over the coming years.

There has been speculation that the police service could be subject to funding reductions of between 25 per cent to 40 per cent which, on top of the savings we have already been forced to make, would have a massive impact on the policing service we provide.

As an aside, it was interesting to read recent media reports that revealed the Home Office had admitted to basing its proposed new funding formula for police forces on flawed calculations.

So, even without that alarming development, we know more cuts are on the way; we just don't know the true extent of what the Government will impose upon us.

Whatever the scale of the cuts, there are tough decisions to be made and some chief officers are now coming out and admitting there are some parts of traditional policing that we may no longer be able to provide.

In Cambridgeshire, for example, victims of crime are going to be asked to talk to officers via Skype instead of expecting someone to visit them at home and, in another cost-cutting initiative, there are also proposals on the table for officers to be allowed to use body-worn cameras to interview suspects at crime scenes

Other forces are coming up with their own ideas for plugging funding gaps. In Bedfordshire, PCC Olly Martins has suggested full-time operation of speed cameras on one of the busiest stretches of the M1 - which passes through his patch - to raise extra revenue and has also said he would be willing to allow sponsorship of police cars and officer uniform.

Perhaps desperate times, bring desperate measures but one thing is for sure, we need to educate the public about what they can - and crucially what they can't - expect from their police forces.

Maybe we should only be responding to criminal matters. Maybe there are lots of things that are not really police matters that we have, in the past, dealt with. We cannot be all things to all people. We in the police service are starting to understand that but do you think the public will accept that?

One thing seems certain to me. The Government is not listening to the police service when we warn about the consequences of the ongoing cuts so it is now time for members of the public to let their MPs know their views.

Forces around the country are feeling the pinch, the public are starting to feel the effects and it's now time for our communities to speak up and help save the British police service.