Northamptonshire Police will find budget cuts ‘difficult’

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A REPORT from HM Inspector of Constabularies (HMIC) has highlighted Northamptonshire Police as one of five forces in England and Wales that will struggle to cope with further budget cuts.

The report says Northants Police has ‘significant performance issues’ which they will struggle to rectify at the same time as making further cuts and that it will be ‘challenging for the force to deliver the further change necessary and provide an acceptable level of service’.

The force has identified it needs to save £21.8 million between March 2011 and March 2015 (the spending review period).

The HMIC report says the force has identified where it can make £18.7 million of savings, but still needs to find £3.1 million from its budget.

As a proportion of its overall budget (15 per cent) this level of saving is smaller than most other police forces.

The report says Northamponshire Police is cutting police officers (123 fewer over the review period), police community support officers (down 32 per cent) and police staff (428 fewer staff, down 37 per cent).

However HMIC says over the first two years of the spending review recorded crime, excluding fraud, dropped by three per cent in Northamptonshire; compared to a 13 per cent reduction across England and Wales.

HMIC for the eastern region Zoe Billingham said: “The force faces a smaller saving requirement than other forces.

“While it has developed some innovative approaches to meeting its funding challenge, the force has struggled to deliver on performance.

“HMIC has been monitoring Northamptonshire Police for some time. Although the force’s own crime figures for the last two months are more encouraging, HMIC has yet to see evidence of sustainable performance improvement.

“The force recognises the issue and is working hard to address the problem.

“The force does not yet have a clear and overarching change programme, nor does it have a plan that will enable it to close the funding gap over this spending review period, unlike most other forces.

“Faced with further budget restrictions after March 2015 HMIC is concerned that it will be challenging for the force to deliver the further change necessary and provide an acceptable level of service to the public.”