Chief con­sta­ble warns of big im­pact of spend­ing squeeze

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Front Page - By ASHA ME­HTA

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.

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