Clevelands Police & Crime Commissioner has warned the Home Office that communities will lose more ‘bobbies on the beat’ if the government continues to reduce funding available to support forces.
Barry Coppinger, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, and a strong and consistent advocate of Neighbourhood Policing, issues the stark warning in a consultation document over the future of Police funding.
Mr Coppinger warns: “The continued funding constraints are likely to impact significantly on my ability to deliver against my Police and Crime Plan, the cornerstone of which, has been and continues to be Neighbourhood Policing. However there is a real risk that continued cuts to police funding within Cleveland are likely to lead to significant challenges in the ability to maintain Neighbourhood Policing in its current format within Cleveland.
He adds: “The retention and development of neighbourhood policing was not only a key issue on which I received a mandate across the Cleveland area at the November 2012 elections, it is also consistently supported by residents at the approximately 300 community meetings across Cleveland I have attended during this period.”
Cleveland Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer has also warned the Government that cuts to police funding have hit the frontline. Her response states: “Many community posts have been withdrawn across all agencies as part of the response to the previous CSRs (Comprehensive Spending Reviews). Cleveland Police have worked hard to maintain a high number of officers and police staff in frontline, visible posts. We will not be able to sustain this going forward.”
The Government has invited responses on the reform of Police Funding from Police & Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables across the country.
Cleveland Police has seen an 18% cut to its budget in recent years and the loss of some 400 police posts and there are fears that a further round of Government cuts could see police funding reduced by a further 25%.
Mr Coppinger said: “We have made significant savings in recent years and continue to look to collaboration and other efficiencies to ensure best value for local taxpayers. In terms of austerity, Cleveland Police has certainly done its bit.
“It is down to the dedication and professionalism of officers and staff that these cuts have been achieved without substantial rises in crime and that the vast majority of the public continue to have confidence in their local police.
“Neighbourhood Policing is the foundation on which policing in Cleveland is built. Not only does the regular sight of a uniformed officer on the beat re-assure people, it is also vital in gathering local intelligence that helps detect and prevent the most serious of crimes.
“The Government must be aware that to take more from policing will inevitably hit the frontline and reduce further the aspect of policing most demanded by the public – the bobby on the beat.”
In his response to Government, Mr Coppinger outlines how Police are also having to deal with the consequential impact of cuts to other public services, for example mental health services, stretching the reduced police budget further.
He also calls for more certainty on funding to allow for better financial planning.
The full responses of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable can be viewed here.
Posted on Friday 18th September 2015