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PCC and Chief Constable's Message to Stakeholders About Financial Plans

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To all Cleveland Police Stakeholders.

This letter is to inform you about plans being developed to address the budget pressures on Cleveland Police caused by the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Reviews of 2010 and 2013 for the period up to 2016/17.

You may already be aware that the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) of 2010 required annual cash savings totalling £15.1m.  In practice the savings are greater than this due to the impact of inflation, pay costs, externally set pay awards and other unavoidable costs pressures.  The further CSR of 2013 added another £4.8m to this causing urgent revision of our plans.

The following actions are already underway, largely as a result of the CSR 2010:

  • Freeze on recruitment of police officers (implemented in 2010)
  • Use of Regulation A19 to reduce police officer numbers by requiring them to retire after 30 years (consequently police officer numbers have reduced from 1727 in 2010 to 1391 posts in November 2013)
  • Outsourcing business support functions to save approximately £7m per year
  • Reducing our non-pay expenditure (e.g. by transferring the helicopter to the national air service)
  • Introduction of a functional model to enable the delivery of policing services in Cleveland with fewer officers
  • Instigating a root and branch review of the estate, including PFI contracts and the Headquarters proposal
  • Further collaboration with neighbouring forces
  • Reductions of costs in the Force Executive and in the PCC’s office

Despite financial pressures, in 2012-13 Cleveland’s lowest ever levels of crime were recorded. It is appreciated that crime reduction depends on the support of the public and the commitment of agencies other than the police, and we are aware that these organisations are managing similar, if not greater, budget pressures.  It is with this in mind that now, more than ever, it is important to be open and transparent about the transformation that is underway to understand the pressures each of us face, and to seek ways of maintaining front-line services by improved working together. 

Further measures are now needed to deal with the continuing austerity.  It is important that rather than deal with this year by year, we attempt to consolidate around a sustainable operating model based on budget assumptions to at least 2016-17. The five priorities of the Police and Crime Commissioner, derived from extensive public consultation, are central to this.  To deliver policing in Cleveland in a sustainable way we will set operating levels so as not to fall below the following numbers:

  • 1333 Full-time equivalent (FTE) police officers (numbers have reduced by 336, with a further reduction of 58 planned);
  • 151 FTE police staff (we have accrued 10 vacancies, with a further reduction of 40 FTE posts planned);
  • 132 FTE Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) (we have accrued 9 vacancies, with a further reduction of 25 FTE posts planned)

To this end, we are introducing a programme of voluntary redundancy, early retirement and flexible retirement for police staff and PCSOs to enable us to reduce staff numbers to the sustainable levels we need.  We intend to take until mid-2014 to bring this into effect and thereby we hope to avoid the need to introduce compulsory redundancy if we do not achieve sufficient volunteers.

We will also continue to use Regulation A19 for police officers (requiring retirement after 30 years) to establish a sustainable operating model of 1333 FTE police officers. On this basis we hope to begin to re-introduce recruitment in 2014–15 for police constables to maintain this establishment. Applications from PCSOs and Special Constables will be particularly welcome.

Cleveland Police has always been one of the highest spending forces per head of population and we need to challenge ourselves to work more efficiently. Even at 1333 police officers, Cleveland will have 2.4 officers per 1000 population against the national average of 1.9. 

To reduce the establishment is not something we would have chosen to do unless it was absolutely necessary, but given nearly 70% of our running costs are employee-related, this is inevitable given the reductions the government has introduced. Consequently, there will be a small reduction in visible policing resources, but the commitment to keeping people safe remains paramount. Police officers will be there when they are needed, and we will continue the fight against crime and antisocial behaviour that is so damaging to our communities. 

Neighbourhood policing, as a PCC priority, will take an even greater proportion of overall policing resources. Its focus will be to deal with crime and disorder in neighbourhoods. Any capacity that may once have existed to undertake anything other than core policing duties, will be severely limited and partner agencies will hopefully understand the need to reduce expectations accordingly.

In addition to reductions in establishment, our plans also include estate rationalisation, reducing our supplier costs and greater collaborative working with our partners. If the government position changes, or if we realise greater savings from these initiatives than anticipated, we may revise our sustainable operating model. The guiding principle of savings will always be sought first from places that do not impinge upon police numbers - buildings for example will come second place to people. In any event, we will keep this work under constant review.

If you have any questions or comments, or wish to discuss further, please get in touch.


Barry Coppinger, Police & Crime Commissioner for Cleveland           Jacqui Cheer, Chief Constable, Cleveland Police

 

Posted on Tuesday 5th November 2013
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