Lancashire's two most senior policing figures have today outlined the scale of the financial challenge facing Lancashire and the decisions taken to address it.
Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw and Chief Constable Steve Finnigan have outlined the financial challenge that policing in Lancashire is facing over the next four years to meet the savings of around £73 million required as a result of the government’s austerity measures.
Both Mr Grunshaw and Mr Finnigan are united in their view that if the government was to ask for further savings on top of the £73 million that this would be extremely difficult to find.
Mr Grunshaw said: “We have already saved £40 million and this latest raft of changes in operational and support services will take the savings to just over £60 million which still leaves a gap of around £13 million to be found – anything beyond this will be extremely difficult to find.
“It is really important that people in Lancashire have a clear understanding of what the police have to do to balance the budget.”
The changes in operational and support services have identified £20 million in savings which will come from a wholesale restructure of the force, which involves reducing the number of territorial divisions from six to three, reviewing the specialist crime and operations divisions as well as a reduction in overall support services.
Through restructuring, management costs will be reduced significantly and work is ongoing to reprioritise where resources will be based and what they are expected to do. For example, all specialist roads policing, armed response and dog patrol officers will be based back in divisions, so they can form part of the wider police response to incidents.
The way in which we manage custody processes will change to a centrally governed function providing greater resilience across the county. In relation to the workforce the Constabulary will reduce police officer posts by 165 and police staff posts by 275 for this round of savings. Overall the predicted reductions from 2009 to 2017/18 are in the region of 700 police officers and 550 police staff.
Mr Finnigan said: “We have navigated through the challenge well so far and have identified nearly £40 million and not broken the business and to find this money we have had to take very difficult decisions.
“What has been really important throughout this review is that we minimise the impact on frontline and visible policing but with nearly 700 police officers fewer, we cannot leave those areas untouched.
“We are facing our greatest challenge and most radical changes in over 30 years and yet we want to reassure all our communities that, despite these cuts, we will continue to deliver the high quality policing services that this Constabulary is known for.”
Recent figures show that 89 percent of Lancashire residents are confident in the policing services available to them, and 88 percent are satisfied with the service they have received.
Mr Grunshaw added: “I want to reassure the people in Lancashire that to keep them safe, especially those who are most vulnerable, remains our utmost priority. I would like to ask for residents’ patience during the implementation of these changes and pay tribute to the Constabulary’s officers and staff for the way they have continued to deliver really high standards with fewer resources in these difficult times.”
These changes will be implemented on a sequenced basis between 2014 and 2017/18 with the new force ‘footprint’ being in place by April 2014.