Derbyshire's top two policing figures are now considering the outcomes of the recently completed Priority Based Budget Review with a view to meeting further budget cuts from the Government.
Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles and Chief Constable Mick Creedon said today that they are "totally committed on behalf of local taxpayers to delivering value for money."
However, the Commissioner warned: "We are now at the point where we have to question whether or not the Force can realistically continue to offer the same level of service. It's clear from the ongoing reductions to our budget that we will not be able to sustain officer numbers for much longer."
Critically, the Force has determined to allocate its resources where they are most needed in order to keep people - particularly the most vulnerable - safe.
With Derbyshire Constabulary's next budget to be set in January, the Force has priority-scrutinised every area of work in preparation for the next round of budget cuts and the further savings that will be required over the next five years. This Review has not only identified areas where savings can be made, but also highlighted ways in which service delivery can be changed in order to maintain an effective service despite the budget restraints. These proposals will be closely examined by the Commissioner when he sets the budget for next year in January as well as considering a longer term five year financial plan.
Commissioner Charles went on to say: "Austerity and ongoing funding cuts continue to be a major factor in shaping the service that Derbyshire Constabulary can provide to our communities. I should pay tribute to Chief Constable Mick Creedon and his team for the way that they are managing the situation to minimise the impact on service delivery to Derbyshire residents."
The Commissioner and the Chief Constable both acknowledge that the need to make savings will inevitably lead to changes, including a reduction of police officers and staff and changes to roles. It is expected that most staff reductions will involve voluntary redundancies, career moves and not recruiting to fill vacant posts and changes will be phased in over a five-year period. The Commissioner pointed out that whichever way you look at this, it will mean fewer people are employed with a consequential impact on the individuals involved and the local economy.
The number of police buildings required will also reduce as a result of changes to the way local policing will be delivered, which will coincide with an increase in new technology which allows officers to work ‘on the street' where they are also more accessible to the public.
Plans arising from the Review will continue to be aligned to meet threat, risk and harm considerations, while maintaining the highest quality service possible for residents and businesses.
Alongside the obvious financial challenges, the Force is up against the changing face of crime. With modern policing and community safety no longer being all about ‘bobbies on the beat' there is a pressing need to maintain the public's confidence in policing and also sustain officer and staff morale. To achieve this, the Commissioner and Chief Constable are determined to ensure that working practices continue take into account areas of developing yet often unseen criminality such as human trafficking, cyber-crime and child sexual exploitation.
Chief Constable Mick Creedon said:
"The level of cuts that the police service is dealing with is totally unprecedented in my 35 years of service. We have already lost more than 450 officers and staff through the first four years of the austerity programme and we anticipate a similar number over the next four years.
"It is a stark fact that within four years the Derbyshire Constabulary will probably be a similar size to what it was some 25 or 30 years ago. It is impossible for this not to have an impact on the way we deliver policing to the one million people who live in Derbyshire. Society has changed and the demands of the public are ever increasing. The type of crime that we are now dealing with is hugely complicated, particularly given the explosion in technology and the fact that virtually all types of crime can now be facilitated using the internet.
"During the course of the force change programme we are looking where every single officer and member of staff is and how they are best deployed to improve policing in the county. We need to protect vulnerable people, to properly attack those who harm others and to do all we can to make Derbyshire an even safer place and to reduce victimisation even further. We are hugely proud of the fact that crime is much lower in Derbyshire than it was ten, twelve or fifteen years ago and than in all neighbouring forces. We are not complacent and despite the cuts I remain completely confident that the public of Derbyshire will still see an outstanding service.
"If at times officers are not as visible as they might be, I would ask the public to recognise that investigating on-line fraud, paedophilia, modern slavery, organised criminal activity and a whole range of other serious offending often requires a covert and hidden response. We have to do this to protect the public.
"Despite this our commitment to neighbourhood policing remains high and we will always be able to service emergency calls through the provision of reactive response officers across the entire county, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"My colleagues and I wish that we didn't have to deal with these huge cuts to our policing budget and we wish that we were able to expand the service further and do more - as the public tell us time and time again this is what they want to see. Sadly this is not the reality we face and we have to deal with the budget allocated to us. In this new reality our commitment is as strong as ever in terms of delivering an excellent policing service to everyone.
"I know how confident the public of Derbyshire are in their local force and my commitment remains as strong as ever to do all we can to work with them, and our partners, to improve the quality of life and challenge criminal activity across the whole county."
For more information, please contact:
Sallie Blair 01283 821012 (PCC)
Force Media Office 0300 122 8903
Posted on Wednesday 15th October 2014