Derbyshire’s PCC, Hardyal Dhindsa, is calling on the Government to support the police service when it announces its public spending plans this week.
Pointing out that the Government has relied upon the police to implement its Covid-19 restrictions, putting frontline officers and staff at risk of the virus, he said that it would be jeopardizing public safety to expect the police to find further cuts after the long period of austerity which meant that Derbyshire lost over 400 officers and the best part of 300 police staff.
He said today that he had discussed the funding position in detail with the Chief Constable and raised the issue at a meeting with local MPs last week, seeking their support against new cuts to policing and explaining the vital role that the police play in engaging with the public to adhere to the Covid-19 restrictions.
“Even a flat cash settlement figure is, in real terms, a cut,” he explained today. “While I recognise that the country’s financial position has been hit hard due to Covid-19, the police service must not become another victim, which is what will happen if we are asked to find any further financial savings.
“The austerity years hit the service, and all those working within it, hard and it is simply unreasonable to expect them to face those pressures again when we barely half way back to the numbers we had in 2010.
“We are only just beginning to see the positive results of growth. Any cutbacks will threaten the progress made in recent years. The public who have supported that growth through the increase in the policing portion of the Council Tax bill do not deserve to have that backing eroded.
“The Chief Constable has told me, in no uncertain terms, that in order to continue to deliver our services, the establishment of sufficient and stable funding for the future is crucial.
“She stresses that a standstill budget, with no growth for any new or mainstreamed priorities, would create a deficit of £0.5m in 2021/22, rising to a £9m deficit in 2024/25 based on the reasonable assumptions of limited council tax precepts and no future increases in Central Government grant funding.
“We are deeply concerned that, even if the Government continues to cover the Uplift programme there will still be a deficit of £5.9m by 2024/25 as a minimum.
“In simple terms, this would undo the vast majority of the progress we have made since 2016. Officer posts, staff posts would have to be cut. Vital investment in technology would go. Vulnerable people would be placed at higher risk. Communities would not see the visible policing they so desperately want. We would be back to policing on a shoestring.
“So, in planning its financial future, I urge the Government to look for savings elsewhere. The police have performed magnificently throughout the pandemic and do not deserve to be hit in the pocket yet again. I will continue to call for a fair deal for policing and, having explained the gloomy economic outlook, I hope that our local MPs will support me.
“It is our job and our moral responsibility to do everything in our power to keep people safe.”
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Posted on Tuesday 24th November 2020