POLICE CUTS TO HIT HARD
Chief constable warns of big impact of spending squeeze
CAMBRIDGESHIRE’S Chief Constable has warned that Government cash cuts could have an impact on “frontline” policing.
The county’s top cop Julie Spence has ordered a recruitment freeze and a review of overtime management after £1.2million was slashed from the force’s annual Government grant.
Ms Spence is also reviewing whether Tuesday’s budget will mean further cuts are necessary.
A POLICE chief has warned that impending Government spending cuts could have an impact on “frontline” policing.
Cambridgeshire’s Chief Constable Julie Spence has already ordered a recruitment freeze and a review of overtime management after £1.2million was cut from the force’s annual Government grant.
Ms Spence said she had not expected the cuts – revealed to them on May 27 by the new Government – to be as significant as they are.
She said: “I think we all knew that the cuts would be tough. What we weren’t quite expecting was the significant £1.2 million trimming of this year’s government grant to the force.
“We are constantly seeking ways of saving money and work had already intensified in anticipation of lean times ahead, including the setting up of a budget task force to examine every suggestion for economising. We have ordered a freeze in recruitment for the foreseeable future and a root and branch review of the way we manage police officer overtime.”
The force is currently reviewing whether Tuesday’s emergency budget – which announced 25 per cent cuts across Government departments including the Home Office – will mean further problems.
Ms Spence added: “Our priority is to ensure that we continue to police communities and neighbourhoods at today’s levels. That will not be easy and, if further cuts come, there is no doubt that despite our best efforts there will be an impact on frontline services.”
Cambridgeshire Police Authority treasurer John Hummersone said a force that was already under-funded would struggle to make savings without hitting frontline services.
He said: “It’s pretty unprecedented to cut a grant that’s already been agreed.
“It is about 1.2 per cent of our general Government grant, which is £83.5million, but means we have to reduce about 1 per cent of our spending.
“The chief constable has already taken immediate measures, such as a freeze on recruiting civilian staff and she may not recruit uniformed police officers as quickly as she might otherwise do. We would hope that we will find the savings, but for an organisation which is low funded, it is difficult to find places to find savings which won’t touch the frontline.”
Chairman of Cambridgeshire Police Federation Shaun Ryan said their priority was making sure services were maintained.
He said: “I’ve been reassured by the chief constable that they will protect frontline services and try and protect police numbers. They are consulting with us and we will watch with interest.”
FEARS: Chief Constable Julie Spence.