Police face challenge with fewer officers and staff

Mathew Grove

Mathew Grove

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Work undertaken by Humberside Police to ensure the force can continue to deliver effective policing locally in response to the financial challenges of the spending review has been judged as “good” in the latest inspection.

The Valuing the Police report, published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, looks at how forces are planning for the long term to meet future funding challenges in this era of austerity.

In the fourth year of the Valuing the Police programme, the inspection reported an overall judgment of “good” for how well the force is providing value for money.

Deputy Chief Constable David Griffin welcomed the report and said work is ongoing to ensure the financial challenges continue to be met.

He said: “When the HMIC came into force in April this year they saw what we have achieved so far in terms of working within our reduced budget and they recognised the many steps we have taken to ensure the communities we serve will continue to receive an effective service in this period of austerity.

“In order to make the necessary savings, the way our workforce will look in the future is significantly different to that of recent years with fewer officers and police staff. However, whilst by 2015 we will have 24 per cent fewer officers and a reduction of 21 per cent in the total workforce compared to 2010, we will have increased the proportion of police officers in front line positions from 88 to 90 per cent.

“We recognise the importance of protecting frontline crime-fighting roles within the organisation and our plans are achieving this through a number of initiatives which is seeing officers moved out of back office roles and placed in positions where their powers are most needed such as neighbourhood and incident response.

“Since the inspection was undertaken in April we have also continued with our work to ensure the long term financial future of the force and we are confident our plans will meet the challenge.”

The HMIC also recognised the force’s plan to change the organisational structure through the Building the Future change programme; the regional collaborative arrangements with other forces to provide specialist services and the leadership style of the Chief Constable which has a strong focus on engagement and communication with staff, and the creation of a force leadership team.

Matthew Grove, Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “It is reassuring that Humberside Police has been assessed as “good” in this recent inspection, and judged as being able to continue to deliver effective local policing despite the tough financial challenges of the comprehensive spending review.

When writing the Police and Crime Plan I recognised that ‘during times of financial austerity it is even more important than ever that our resources are used in the most efficient and effective way possible’

On entering office it was clear that the Police were looking to achieve the required savings by doing things in the same way - but more cheaply. I felt this was no longer sustainable, which is why I challenged the new Chief Constable to redesign the Force to ensure we could protect the public of Northern Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire with the funds we expect to have available, while, at the same time, maintaining front line officers and PCSO numbers where possible, and, increasing visibility and accessibility.

Despite achieving savings and efficiencies from back office functions, we have to accept that delivering effective policing services is a business heavily reliant on people, with some 80% of the overall policing budget spent on officers and staff, meaning that required savings will have an impact on officer and staff numbers. The key, moving forward, is how these officers and staff will be used to best effect for local communities in the future.

The introduction of secure mobile technology will see Officers and PCSOs spending up to two hours extra per shift out on patrol rather than in the police station, and also working from other buildings in partnership with local authorities, town and parish councils, the fire service and Health.

I will continue to ensure that Humberside Police will uphold their promise to local people and deliver safer communities through high quality policing services. This will be achieved by working with partners and local communities to prevent crime, target offenders, protect the public and seek justice for victims.”

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