Frontline police officers may have to be axed to meet funding shortfall

Frontline officers may have to be cut.
Frontline officers may have to be cut.

Beds Police could be forced to cut its frontline officers under new Home Office proposals for funding.

It comes as the force pushes ahead with further collaboration to meet its funding shortfall.

Herts, Beds and Cambs police forces have agreed to proceed with plans to merge its custody, criminal justice and ICT departments.

A business case has also been drawn up to collaborate the information management department functions.

The changes will help the forces to meet a predicted £62million funding gap between now and 2019/20.

Beds police and crime commissioner Olly Martins said: “We are working hard to use joint working to make savings and keep Bedfordshire Police financially sustainable. “In view of the recent Home Office announcement that the review of the funding formula has gone against us this is becoming increasingly difficult and we are getting to the point when in addition to collaboration, introducing new technology and restructuring the force, we are going to have to reduce the number of frontline officers once again.”

Beds Chief Constable Jon Boutcher has warned the force is facing a funding crisis like never seen before under latest Home Office plans to allocate funding to police forces.

“Under the proposals we are set to receive no increase in funding and we are expecting the announcement of further cuts in November,” he said.

“Bedfordshire Police has been under funded for more than a decade. Fellow chief officers in other forces across the country are staggered Bedfordshire has not been allocated better funding.

“We have less officers and more challenges than other forces.

“The proposed formula creates an even greater gap between Bedfordshire and those other Forces.

“We will not be able to deliver the same level of service as policing elsewhere. How can that possibly be right?”

Under the latest collaboration proposals criminal justice, processes and policies will be standardised and streamlined across Herts, Beds and Cambs according to best practice.

Greater use of technology such as electronic witness statements and digital storage solutions will help to modernise this service.

By improving storage facilities and the timely submission of evidential case material to the Crown Prosecution Service, the length of trials could be reduced.

Under custody changes, around £1million will be saved within two years by adopting common working practices that will help free up staff time to focus on more detainees, ensuring that each person is seen as promptly as possible.

Both the collaborated custody and criminal justice departments will be overseen by a single, centralised senior management team.

The creation of a single ICT department will ensure that there is a consistent approach to the service.

Staff working in the affected department will be consulted before a final decision on collaboration is made.