‘Shift bur­den of cuts to push up po­lice num­bers’


PO­LICE NUM­BERS could rise in South York­shire de­spite bud­get prob­lems un­der a rad­i­cal idea from the Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sioner which, he says, could buck the trend of dwin­dling of­fi­cer num­bers across the coun­try.

Dr Alan Billings has asked Chief Con­sta­ble Stephen Wat­son to find ways of em­ploy­ing more of­fi­cers even though there is lit­tle prospect of any­thing more than a ‘flat cash’ set­tle­ment next year, mean­ing a real world re­duc­tion af­ter in­fla­tion.

That would pro­vide more staff to bol­ster the re­cently re-in­tro­duced neigh­bour­hood polic­ing units, which have al­ready shown promis­ing re­sults in tack­ling crime and be­hav­iour prob­lems be­fore they can es­ca­late into ma­jor is­sues.

Dr Billings be­lieves more staff will be needed if neigh­bour­hood teams are to achieve their full po­ten­tial and has set the chief con­sta­ble the chal­lenge of find­ing the fund­ing with no new re­sources.

That would “buck the trend” of most forces, which ac­cept staffing lev­els will have to de­cline as con­tin­ued re­duced bud­gets and new ex­penses con­tinue to bite.

He ac­cepts Mr Wat­son may have to find ways of rais­ing the cash through sav­ings else­where in his bud­get, some­thing which is ex­pected to hap­pen in the months lead­ing up to the bud­get be­ing set early next year.

Chan­cel­lor Philip Ham­mond of­fered no ex­tra money for polic­ing in his re­cent bud­get and PCCs will learn the full im­pact of the Gov­ern­ment’s spend­ing plans on law and or­der when the polic­ing grant is an­nounced next month.

Dr Billing’s re­quest comes af­ter years of cuts to po­lice spend­ing and re­duc­tions in the num­ber of of­fi­cers within South York­shire Po­lice and forces else­where in the coun­try.

He said: “I can­not give him ex­tra re­sources, he will have to find re­sources from some­where else.

“It may be South York­shire Po­lice make sav­ings in other ar­eas to pay for ex­tra po­lice of­fi­cers.

“We are try­ing to buck the trend. Where ev­ery­one is look­ing at re­duc­ing num­bers, we are look­ing at how we can pro­vide ex­tra po­lice of­fi­cer re­sources.

“You may have to do some changes within the work­force; I don’t think we want to go down the route of job losses but there may have to be job jug­gling to get it right.

“This will hap­pen be­tween now and the end of the fi­nan­cial year.”

No fig­ure has been set for the ex­tra num­ber of of­fi­cers, Dr Billings would hope to see, but it is ex­pected to be rel­a­tively mod­est.

Staffing costs make up around 80 per cent of po­lice spend­ing, so find­ing sav­ings else­where is an ex­tremely dif­fi­cult task.

Re­lo­cated trib­utes left for the vic­tims of the he­li­copter crash, at a new me­mo­rial site near the King Power Sta­dium.

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