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Frontline officers to fall in '£3 billion cut'

Settlement funding for HMIC and IPCC roundly criticised as policing world reacts to next year's budget

More officer numbers will fall as police budgets will have been slashed by the equivalent of £3 billion by the end of the next financial year, it has been claimed.

The Home Office announced yesterday (December 17) that the funding settlement for 2015/16 will be cut by almost £300 million on 2014/15 figures.

The department said it amounts to a 5.1 per cent reduction in central government funds across all forces.

At the same time, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will be given a further £30 million, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) £9.4 million for its PEEL inspections and the College of Policing £4.6million for its direct entry schemes.

Association of Chief Police Officers' (ACPO) President Sir Hugh Orde said: "The Police Service has lost 34,000 police and staff since 2010. The 5.1 per cent budget reduction will lead to further losses, with more impact on the frontline which the Police Service has managed largely to protect until now.

"While forces understand that the government wants to invest in specific areas where they feel there is a national policing interest; the allocation of funds to the IPCC, HMIC and the Police Innovation Fund reduces overall force budgets. Most forces would prefer that this money was left in their budget to spend where there is most need in their force.”

Former ACPO finance lead Dr Tim Brain said that the money which is not allocated to forces is not worth including in the settlement total.

"If you just look at what the 43 forces actually get it will be around £8.1billion. In 2010/11 the figure was £9.7 billion. If you take inflation - which the government would dispute and say I shouldn't do - police should be on about £11 billion now. That amounts to a settlement of about £3 billion less," he said.

"It’s really clear forces are struggling to cope with the scale of the cuts."

He added that 1980s-style predominantly reactive policing, would be returned to soon and pointed out that further cuts are likely to be introduced in subsequent years.

Inequitable and unfair

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Jamieson said that his force would inevitably lose officers, and that the funding formula hit it disproportionately.

"We were expecting about £18 million, but a further £5 million has been ‘top-sliced’ to pay for pet projects and inspections that add little to front line policing," he said.

"Again the government has relied on crude, across the board cuts that are inequitable and unfair."

Lancashire PCC Clive Grunshaw criticised the Home Office for including the Police Innovation Fund in the settlement, stating that his force had to waste time and resources bidding for money which had been top sliced from them already.

As previously reported, Lincolnshire Chief Constable Neil Rhodes warned in an open letter to Home Secretary Theresa May recently that his force could collapse within three years due to cuts.

The force's PCC Alan Hardwick told PoliceOracle.com that yesterday's announcement was even worse than what they expected when the warning was sent.

But he said: "Our particular problems have been acknowledged and the Home Secretary will be meeting us to discuss them.

"There are other forces in the country who haven't even started to make some of the savings that have become second nature here in Lincolnshire. We've been penalised by the funding formula."

Crime is down

Policing Minister Mike Penning (pictured) said in a parliamentary statement that crime is down by a fifth since 2010.

He added: "Police officers have been taken out of back office roles and resources focused on front line delivery, putting officers back on the streets where the public expect them to be.

"Police forces are working more closely than ever before to reduce costs and duplication, and have started to work more closely with other emergency services through co-location and collaboration in areas such as mental health.

"The police are making their contribution to reducing the deficit and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary have found that the police are successfully meeting the challenge of balancing their books while protecting the frontline and delivering reductions in crime."

Shadow Policing Minister Jack Dromey accused the Conservatives of systematically undermining neighbourhood policing.

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